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Tuesday, December 5, 2017
The Deciduous Holly - Ilex decidua
The Deciduous Holly (Ilex decidua) or Possumhaw Holly as it is more commonly known is a deciduous Holly tree that reaches heights of only 30 feet tall and grows in an ascending, erect or leaning fashion with a single or multiple trunks. In open grown specimens the crowns are cylindrical in form and densely foliaged, while in forest grown specimens branches are few. The Possumhaw is native to the Eastern United States from Maryland in the north to Southern Florida in the South, West through Kansas and central Texas. Most often located between 0-360 m in moist and wet woodlands, floodplains, bottoms, and occasionally dry uplands. It is similar in appearance to the Carolina Holly but can be distinguished by elliptic rather than oblanceolate leaves.
Image Citation: Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
The leaves of the Possumhaw Holly are alternate most often occurring in closely set clusters on short shoots which leads them to appear to be whorled or opposite, they are distinctly widest towards the tip with a long tapering base. The upper leaf surfaces are dark green, margins are not visible, edges are bluntly toothed, each tooth tipped with a tiny gland. The twigs are greenish in color when young, becoming greenish brown and then gray at maturity. The bark is grayish or gray-brown in color, smooth when young becoming slightly rougher with age. The flowers are greenish white in color with 4-6 petals each, occurring in the Spring each year. The fruit is a round multi-stone drupe ranging in size from 4-9mm in diameter, varying in color from red to yellow or orange, occurring in the Fall and persisting into Winter.
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