Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Ilex glabra (L.) Gray
- Family: Holly (Aquifoliaceae)
- Flowering: June-September
- Field Marks: This species differs from all other evergreen hollies by lacking spines on the
leaves, only having teeth toward the tip of the leaves, and its drupes black at maturity.
- Habitat: Low woods, savannas, pocosins, rocky shores, flatwoods, wet prairies, stream banks,
- Habit: Shrub up to 12 feet tall, with extensive rhizomes, often forming colonies.
- Stems: Woody, slightly hairy, at least when young, green but becoming gray or brown, with
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, evergreen, leathery, obovate to elliptic, pointed at the tip, tapering to the
base, smooth, usually with a few teeth in the upper half, often reddish and dotted on the lower
surface, shiny on the upper surface, up to 2 inches long, up to 3/4 inch wide; leaf stalks hairy, up to
1/3 inch long.
- Flowers: Male and female flowers borne separately on the same plant, or male and female flowers
borne on separate plants; male flowers 3-7 in a cluster in the axils of the leaves; female flowers 1-3 in
the axils of the leaves, on stalks up to 1/2 inch long.
- Sepals: 5-8, green, very short, united at the base, smooth except sometimes for a few cilia.
- Petals: 5-8,
white, free from each other.
- Stamens: 5-8.
- Pistils: Ovary superior.
- Fruits: Drupes black at maturity, spherical, up to 1/4 inch in diameter, containing 5-8 nutlets.
- Notes: In the past, the leaves were boiled for a tea. The berries, which persist during the winter, have been
used as a source of black ink. Within its range, this shrub is one of the most abundant of all the
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