Possum-haw holly is a southern deciduous shrub that can grow tree-like in its native habitat. In the Midwest if reaches 10 to 12 feet high but in the south it can be 20 to 30 feet high. Dark green foliage turns brownish-yellow in fall before dropping. Early white flowers appear before the leaves. Female plants will produce bright red, persistent fruit. Requires male and female plant to produce fruit.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- North America
- Large shrub (more than 8 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
- Moist, well-drained soil,
- Wet soil
- Occasional drought,
- Wet sites,
- Occasional flooding,
- Alkaline soil,
- Clay soil,
- Road salt
Season of Interest:
- Early winter,
- Mid winter,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Size and Form
10 to 15 feet high and wide in the Midwest with an upright to rounded form.
Plants sucker to form small colonies.
Tree & Plant Care
Best in full sun to light shade. Tolerant of wet, alkaline soil.
Grows in wet sites in natural habitat but found in shady wooded sites.
A male plant will be needed to pollinate female plants so fruit can be produced.
Place in a protected site as this shrub may not be fully hardy in zone 5.
Disease, pests and problems
No serious problems.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to the southeastern United States and southern IL and IN
Common in wet areas.
Bark color and texture
Bark is gray and fairly smooth when young, becoming rougher with age.
Stems often angled, developing short spurs.
Root suckers can produce small colonies.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple, alternate, oval to lancolate leaves; 11/2 to 3 inches long with toothed, scalloped margins.
Leaf tip is blunt and tappers to purplish, grooved petiole. Leaves tend to be clustered toward end of stems.
Dark green in summer; little to no fall color.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Inconspicuous white flowers; male and female flowers on separate plants.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Bright red berry-like fruit on the female plant matures in autumn and persists throughout winter.
Male plants are required for pollination of females to produce fruit.