American Holly or Ilex Opaca:
American holly is a deep-woods species and mid-story tree that is the state tree of Delaware. The tree was noticed by the Pilgrims who landed in North America the week before Christmas in 1620 on the coast Massachusetts. This evergreen with prickly leaves and red berries reminded them of English holly which was a symbol of Christmas England and Europe. Ilex opaca is the only native North American holly that attains tree size.
Habit and Range:
American holly is slow growing but well worth the wait. Actually some cultivars approach 6" of growth per year. American holly grows into a small to medium tree of about 40' to 50' tall and optimum growth can be encouraged on moist, highly organic, acid and well drained soil. This holly has a comfortable north-south range in North America that goes from Massachusetts to Florida. The tree needs to be protected from drying winter sun and winds.
Here are some excellent holly cultivars by regions.
Northern states: 'Croonenburg', 'Old Heavyberry', 'Miss Helen'
Southern states: 'Savannah'
Identification of American Holly:
American Holly Hardiness Zones:
American holly hardy through zone 5...
"Many people who admire sprigs of holly during winter are not aware that these exotic-looking holiday decorations come from a fine native tree species." - Guy Sternberg, Native Trees for North American Landscapes
"Considered by many gardners the finest tree-type evergreen holly. Over the years, more than 1000 cultivars have been named."- Michael Dirr, Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs