Holly American Holly

=Habitat and Range.=--Generally found in somewhat sheltered situations

in sandy loam or in low, moist soil in the vicinity of water.

Maine,--reported on the authority of Gray's Manual, sixth edition, in

various botanical works, but no station is known; New Hampshire and

Vermont,--no station reported; Massachusetts,--occasional from Quincy

southward upon the mainland and the island of Naushon; rare in the peat
/> swamps of Nantucket; Rhode Island,--common in South Kingston and Little

Compton and sparingly found upon Prudence and Conanicut islands in

Narragansett bay; Connecticut,--mostly restricted to the southwestern


Southward to Florida; westward to Missouri and the bottom-lands of

eastern Texas.

=Habit.=--A shrub or small tree, exceptionally reaching a height of 30

feet, with a trunk diameter of 15-18 inches, but attaining larger

proportions south and west; head conical or dome-shaped, compact;

branches irregular, mostly horizontal, clothed with a spiny evergreen

foliage. The fertile trees are readily distinguished through late fall

and early winter by the conspicuous red berries.

=Bark.=--Bark of trunk thick, smooth on young trees, roughish, dotted on

old, of a nearly uniform ash-gray on trunk and branches; the young

shoots more or less downy, bright greenish-yellow, becoming smooth and

grayish at the end of the season.

=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds short, roundish, generally obtuse,

scales minutely ciliate. Leaves evergreen, simple, alternate, 2-4 inches

long, 1-1/2-3 inches wide, flat when compared with those of the European

holly, thickish, smooth on both sides, yellowish-green, scarcely glossy

on the upper surface, paler beneath, elliptical, oval or oval-oblong;

apex acutish, spine-tipped; base acutish or obtuse; margin wavy and

concave between the large spiny teeth, sometimes with one or two teeth

or entire; midrib prominent beneath; leafstalks short, grooved; stipules

minute, awl-shaped, becoming blackish, persistent.

=Inflorescence.=--Flowers in June along the base of the season's shoots;

sterile and fertile flowers usually on separate trees,--the sterile in

loose, few-flowered clusters, the fertile mostly solitary; peduncles and

pedicels slender, bracted midway; calyx persistent, with 4 pointed,

ciliate teeth; corolla white, monopetalous, with 4 roundish, oblong

divisions; stamens 4, alternating with and shorter than the lobes of the

corolla in the fertile flowers, but longer in the sterile; ovary green,

nearly cylindrical, surmounted by the sessile, 4-lobed stigma. Parts of

the flower sometimes in fives or sixes.

=Fruit.=--A dull red, berry-like drupe, with 4 nutlets, ribbed or

grooved on the convex back, ripening late, and persistent into winter. A

yellow-fruited form reported at New Bedford, Mass. (Rhodora, III, 58).

=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy in southern New England; though preferring

moist, gravelly loam, it does fairly well in dry soil; of slow growth;

useful to form low plantation in shade and to enrich the undergrowth of

woods; occasionally sold by collectors but rare in nurseries; nursery

plants must be frequently transplanted to be moved successfully; only a

small percentage of ordinary collected plants live. The seed seldom

germinates in less than two years.

=Notes.=--The cultivated European holly, which the American tree closely

resembles, may be distinguished by its deeper green, glossier, and more

wave-margined leaves and the deeper red of its berries.

There are several fine specimens of the Ilex opaca on the farm of

Col. Minot Thayer in Braintree, Mass., which are about a foot in

diameter a yard above the ground and 25 feet in height. They have

maintained their present dimensions for more than fifty years.--D. T.

Browne's Trees of North America, published in 1846.

This estate is now owned by Mr. Thomas A. Watson. Several of these

trees have been cut down, but one of them is still standing and of

substantially the dimensions given above. It must have reached the limit

of growth a hundred years ago and now shows very evident signs of

decrepitude. This may be due, however, to the loss of a square foot or

more of bark from the trunk.

1. Branch with staminate flowers.

2. Staminate flower.

3. Pistillate flower.

4. Fruiting branch.