American Holly (Ilex opaca)

American Holly

Merry Christmas from the Cherokee Garden here in Cobb County, Georgia. Our American Holly is full of red berries, thanks in part to the abundance of rain this summer and fall. This broadleaf evergreen that can reach 30 feet tall and it blooms in May with creamy white blossoms. The American Holly likes full sun to part shade and medium moisture with slightly acidic soil. It is easily identified because it is the only native holly with spiny leaves and bright red berries. It is sometimes referred to as the Christmas holly because it is used in decorations. Male and female flowers are on separate trees and it is important to plant both male and female hollies trees in order to have red berries on the female tree.

The Cherokee Would chew the berries for colic. The red berries were also used to make a red dye. Crushed leaves were also used to treat cramping muscle. The wood was used to make cooking tools, like spoons. They also used the wood to make artful carvings.

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