American Holly (Ilex opaca)
Category: Evergreen Trees
American Holly, is a variety of tree that hails from the eastern region of the United States. The growth rate of this evergreen tree is slow to average and performs well in full sun. It is a well-formed and extremely handsome tree that can serve as a barrier or a hedge, too. Another nice feature of the American Holly tree is its flexibility in semi-shadow locations. It is often being productively planted beneath the canopies of bigger shadow trees. The tree grows well in a variety of soils, such as well drained, acidic, drought lenient, moist, loamy, rich, sandy, clay soils, etc. This ornamental tree attains the shape of the pyramid when fully grown.
The evergreen American Holly tree is capable of growing to a height that ranges from 40 feet to 50 feet, with widespread branches that spread to a range from 18 feet to 40 feet. The leaves of the tree are green in color and they maintain their color throughout the year. The leaves of the tree are alternate and their length ranges from two inches to four inches, and the breadth ranges from 0.8 inches to 1.6 inches, with sharp tipped borders. They are glossy at their top part and their bottom part is pale yellow in color. The leaves continue on the branches of the tree for two to three years, lastly, falling during the spring season when pushed off by the developing sprouts.
The tree produces flowers in May to early June, they will be Whitish-green, with a pleasant smell. The stem of the flowers is hairy with a tiny bract at the bottom. Male flowers contain four stamens, introduced at the bottom of the corolla, rotate with its lobes. The pistil on female flowers contains a finer ovary, four-celled, elementary in staminate flowers.
The fruits of the American Holly tree are red in color similar to that of a berry. The fruits are smaller in size, with the diameter that ranges from 6 mm to 12 mm. Each fruit contains four seeds and it is habitually persistent into the winter season.
The flowers of the American Holly tree are pollinated by pests, as well as wasps, bees, night-flying moths and ants. The berries are toxic to humans, but are significant endurance food for birds, who will consume the fruits, following other food resources are worn out. The tree as well, forms a thick canopy that offers shelter for birds from storms and predators. Songbirds, as well as mockingbirds, thrushes, catbirds, thrashers and bluebirds often feed on the fruits of the tree.
The average lifespan of the American Holly tree ranges from 150 years to 200 years.