American Holly, Ilex opaca
Aquifoliaceae or Holly Family


Small to large tree, up to 100 ft tall, but Wildwoods are all small trees. Leaves are oval, evergreen, and equipped with sharp spiny teeth. They are alternate, that is, not opposite each other. Flowers are small, white, with four petals. Blooms in the spring. Fruits are red berries in the fall, persisting into winter.

This is a popular native tree, often planted for ornament. It is very similar to and related to the English holly, of Christmas carol fame. In Wildwood, there are several trees that were planted in the entrance area. A few more plants occur naturally in the woods on the eastern slope. Plants in sunnier areas tend to bloom and fruit more.

The leaves are very similar to the leaflets of Beale's barberry (Berberis bealei), but that plant's leaves are made up of leaflets that are opposite each other. Winterberry holly (I verticillata) is a shrub and has leaves that are not evergreen, and not spiny.

Flower closeup Leaves Underside of leaves

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