American holly is a broad-leaved evergreen tree reaching 40 to 50 feet high, densely pyramidal in youth becoming more open and symmetrically conical with age. The dark green, elliptical leaves have several spiny teeth along the leaf margin. Plants grow best in low, acid pH soils in part shade. Avoid windy sites. Trees are either male or female and require several to get fruit production. This species does not grow to its full potential in northern Illinois.
- Evergreen (foliage year-round)
- North America
- Residential and parks
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Acid soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Marginally hardy,
- May be difficult to find in nurseries
- Persistent fruit/seeds,
- Showy fruit
- Early winter,
- Mid winter,
- Late winter,
- Early spring,
- Mid spring,
- Late spring,
- Early summer,
- Mid summer,
- Late summer,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
- Insect pollinators,
- Large mammals,
- Small mammals
Tree & Plant Care
Prefers acid soil. Intolerant of drought and poor drainage.
Does not always reach its full potential in northern climates (considered marginally hardy in zone 5).
Disease, pests, and problems
A number of pests are possible, including leaf miner, scale, leaf spots and cankers.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native the to eastern and southeastern United States.
Bark color and texture
Bark is smooth, gray and thin.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Evergreen leaves, alternate and simple, with sharply pointed teeth. Dark green in color and 1 1/2 to 4 inches long.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Male and female flowers on separate plants. Flowers are white but very small. Fragrant.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Red berries on female plants only. A male plant is needed to pollinate the female.