Florida Forestry Information
Aquifoliaceae
The Holly Family
 
The holly family consists of 5 genera and over 300 species of woody plants indigenous to temperate and tropical forests of every continent excluding Australia.  The trees of the Aquifoliaceae family are of little value in the production forest products, but several are valued as ornamentals. 
 
 Click on the links below for introductions to some of the trees of this family:
 
dahoon holly
gallberry
American holly
 
Aquifoliaceae Family
Trees of Florida Menu
Glossary
References
Home
 
Ilex cassine 
dahoon holly 
 
Habit 

The dahoon holly is a large shrub or small tree, reaching about 20-30 feet in height, with a 12-15 inch diameter trunk.  It has slender ascending branches which form a low, broad, rounded crown. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are simple, alternate, and persistent.  The leaves are 1.5-3 inches in length and have a wedge-shaped base.  The leaf margins are entire or toothed above the middle of the leaf toward the apex.  At first the leaves are pubescent, becoming glabrous as the plant matures.  Leaves are dark green above and paler green below.  The leaf petioles are short, stout and swollen at the base. 
 
Flowers 
 
This plant is dioecious.  Individual flowers are in clusters on short stalks. 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is a spherical, red, drupe, about 1/4 inch in diameter.  It contains several 1-seeded nutlets. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are slender, pubescent through about 3 seasons, then becoming brown and glabrous.  The pith is small and homogeneous. 
 
Bark 

The bark is gray and rough. 
 
Habitat 

The dahoon holly grows near swamps; on moist, fertile soils with other hardwoods; sometimes on sandy ridges.  This plant occurs from southeast Virginia south along the coast to Florida and the Keys; west to Louisiana.  It is also found in the Bahamas and Cuba. 
 
Use 

This tree is of limited ornamental value, mostly in the southeaster U.S. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
Aquifoliaceae Menu
Trees of Florida Menu
Glossary
Home

Ilex glabra 
gallberry 
 
Habit 

Gallberry is an evergreen shrub which grows to about 7-9 feet in height and sprouts from underground runners.  It is a very common plant in the understory of pine flatwoods. 

Leaves 

Leaves are simple, alternate, and persistent.  Leaf blades are glabrous, somewhat leathery, elliptic in shape, and about 1-2 inches in length.  The upper surfaces are dark green and shiny, while the lower surfaces are paler and dull with scattered small reddish-colored glands.  Leaf margins are mostly entire, with small teeth occurring toward the apex of the leaf.  The petioles are powdery-pubescent and are less than a centimeter in length. 
 
Flowers 
 
This plant is monoecious for the most part.  Individual flowers are in small clusters on short stalks. 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is a spherical, black drupe, less than a centimeter in diameter.  It contains several 1-seeded nutlets. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are slender, pubescent through about 3 seasons, then becoming gray or grayish-brown and glabrous.  The pith is small and homogeneous. 
 
Habitat 

Gallberry grows in pine savannas, flatwoods, bogs, seepage areas, and on the lower slopes of wooded ravines.  This plant occurs from Nova Scotia to south Florida; wet to northeast Texas, mainly on the coastal plain. 
 
Use 

This tree is of limited ornamental value, mostly in the southeastern U.S. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this shrub (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
Aquifoliaceae Menu
Trees of Florida Menu
Glossary
Home
 
Ilex opaca 
American holly 
 
Habit 

American holly, photo by Chris DemersThe American holly is a small- to medium-size tree, commonly 30-50 feet in height and 1-2 feet in diameter.  The branches are short, slender, and somewhat contorted, forming a pyramidal crown.  
 
Leaves 

Leaves are simple, alternate, and persistent.  The leaves are 2-4 inches in length, 1-2 inches wide and have a rounded or wedge-shaped base.  The leaf margins are wavy with numerous stout, stiff, sharp-pointed spines.  However, leaves with entire margins occasionally may be found.  Leaves are dull yellowish-green above and paler and more yellowish below.  Leaf petioles are short, stout, and grooved with swollen bases. 
 
Flowers 
 
This plant is dioecious.  Individual flowers are in clusters on short stalks. 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is a spherical, red drupe, about 1/4 inch in diameter.  It contains several 1-seeded nutlets. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are slender, light brown, and glabrous.  The pith is small and homogeneous. 

Bark 

The bark is gray, thin, and rough, with wart-like bumps. 
 
Habitat 

The dahoon holly grows on rich, moist bottomlands, boarders of swamps, and dry but well-protected slopes.  This tree is frequently found on sandy soils near the coast.  It is distributed along the coast from Massachusetts to Florida; west to eastern Texas; north along the Mississippi valley to southern Indiana and Illinois. 
 
Use 

Holly wood is used in cabinetry and in the manufacture of wooden novelties and souvenirs.  The foliage and fruits of the American holly are commonly used for holiday decorations. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
Aquifoliaceae Menu
Trees of Florida Menu
Glossary
Home