American Holly

ILEX OPACA – American Holly

The American Holly is a common medium size evergreen tree growing in the Eastern and Central United States.

 [Elementary School students]

Did you know?

What President liked this tree?

George Washington was said to have been a fan of the Holly Tree.

What part of the tree was used in clothing and for trade?

Native Americans preserved holly berries for use as decorative buttons. These were highly prized trade items.

What is the wood of the Holly tree used for?

American Holly wood has been used to make furniture, canes and scroll work. Holly Wood is ideal for absorbing dyes, and is used for much of the black and white inlaid lines in musical instruments and furniture. It is also used for knife handles and black piano keys.

What part of the tree is toxic to humans?

The raw berries of the Holly tree are toxic to humans.


[Middle School students]

Habitat (where it likes to live)

Well drained soils in full sun and also in wet soils
Location: Eastern and Central North America  (Zone 5 to 9)

Requirements (what it needs to live)

Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Male trees: Produce berries

Identification (what it looks like)

Winter interest – berries
Leaf – evergreen, thorny
Pyramidical shape helps identify the tree

[High School students]

Habit (how it grows)

Height: 15 to 30 feet
Spread: 10 to 20 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: Creamy white flowers
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Tolerate: Wet Soil, Air Pollution



Suggested Use (where to plant it in the garden and landscape):

Evergreen screening
Food for birds
Parks – Seth Hand Park


  1. Wildflower -
  2. Missouri Botanic Garden –
  3. University of Kentucky Extension -0
  4. Wikipedia –