Name: Ilex opaca - American Holly
Bloom Time: May-June
Fruit Time: Fall - Winter
Soil Condition: Moist, Acidic
Light: Sun - Partial Shade
Size: 40-60' high by 10-20' wide
Native Range: Central and Eastern United States including Long Island
Zone: 5 to 9
Ilex opaca is a slow-growing (12-24" per year) native tree with a lovely pyramidal shape when mature. This beauty is an understory tree and does need a lot of space. It tolerates a bit of drought and some flooding but does not like to sit in water. It also does not tolerate clay soils and despises being planted in the fall. Please note: In order to have berries, you must have a male tree present.
Maintenance: Remove dead branches.
Benefits: Host plant for Henry's Elfin, fruits are eaten by songbirds, wild turkeys, quail, white-tailed deer, squirrels, and other small mammals, provides winter cover for birds.
Fun Facts: This is the holly used to 'deck the halls.' The fragrant male flowers are in 3-12 flowered clusters and the female flowers are solitary or in 2s or 3s. Berries are poisonous to humans - I bit one just to find out how they taste and they are quite disgusting.
Companion Plants: Hydrangea quercifolia - Oakleaf Hydrangea, Viburnum dentatum - Arrowwood, Rhododendron maximum - Rhododendron, Viburnum prunifolium - Blackhaw, Vaccinium angustifolium - Lowbush Blueberry
Photos, Top to Bottom: flowers in spring (skdavidson CC-BY-SA 2.0), berries (KMS Native Plants), foliage (KMS Native Plants), natural form (KMS Native Plants)