American Holly
Ilex opaca

American Holly- Click for Full Image

Fruits are poisonous, see Notes.


Also Called:
Christmas Holly

Evergreen tree with smooth, leathery leaves. Leaves (5-10 cm or 2-4 in) have many spine-tipped teeth, dull green above and yellow-green beneath. Bark is smooth and light-gray. Twigs are gray or brown. Flowers are small and white with four rounded petals, present April-June. Male and female flowers found on separate trees. Fruits are round, hard, red and berry-like, present September-November and remain on tree through the winter. Leaves and berries often used in Christmas decorations.

Found in mixed woods from eastern Massachusetts through mid-Florida and west to Texas. Common in moist soils and floodplains.

Parts used and Uses:

Tea made from leaves used to alleviate measles, colds, flu, and pneumonia. Used externally for sores and itching.

Tea made from bark once used for malaria and epilepsy.

Berries have strong laxative, emetic, and diuretic qualities when ingested.

Fruits can produce violent nausea and vomiting and should be considered poisonous.

American Holly- Click for Full Image
American Holly- Click for Full Image