The American Holly is a wonderful evergreen tree to have in the landscape. A native tree the Eastern United States, its range is zones 5-9.
A mature tree seldom exceeds 50 feet tall with a 15 to 25 foot spread. This pyramidal shaped tree is a slow grower. It can handle some shade though the female tree has a better berry production if planted in full sun. It can be seen as a single or multiple trunk.
As others in the Ilex family, this tree is dioecious, having male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers on separate trees. The flowers are small and inconspicuous emerging in the spring. For berries to be produced it is recommended for a male tree to be planted within 200 feet of the female. A male tree can pollinate more than one female. (no comment!) The berries are actually drupes. Each drupe contains four seeds encased in a hard shell. The berries are produced during the summer, starting green and turning red as they mature.
The problems (disease and insect) are minimal. There are fungal diseases (remove diseased fallen leaves), chlorosis can occur when the Ph levels are high and Tar spot which appears as yellow spots on the leaves in early summer. Spider mites, leaf miners, and scale can be found infesting hollies.
The light grayish brown bark on the trunk is always smooth, no matter the age of the tree.
The wood is hard and is used in a wide range of items – piano keys, handles for tools, scroll work, small furniture, inlay work, violin pegs and many other items. More scientific information can be found on the Silvics manual, a resource put out by the Department of Agriculture. If you are interested in a long list of cultivars the University of Florida site has a great list in addition to far more information than I have shared here.
MOBOT, Floridata, Virginia Tech, NCState, and Auburn were additional websites used.
Next week’s tree- Dwarf Albert Spruce
words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.