Possumhaw Holly

A NATIVE HOLLY: THE POSSUMHAW

The possumhaw (Ilex decidua) is a deciduous holly which drops its leaves in the fall to reveal clusters of yellow to orange to red berries, which last all winter. It tolerates sun or shade, though in full sunlight growth is more dense and fruiting is heavier. It has few enemies and grows in almost any kind of soil--acid or alkaline, dry or marginally damp. It reaches a height of 15 to 25 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide. It can be pruned at anytime, which is a plus as you can expect many requests for branches of berries. The berries are a favorite of many species of birds.

Varieties to consider include Warren's Red, Council Fire and Byer's Golden. To ensure berries, plant one male possumhaw or male American holly for every six female trees.

Geneva Thomas, Smith County Master Gardener


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