Aquifoliaceae (Holly Family)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy
A mound-shaped, colony-forming shrub,
somewhat open with age, 6-12 ft. tall and wide. Lance-shaped, sparingly-toothed, glossy, leathery foliage varies in color from dark- to light-green both in summer and fall. Inconspicuous flowers are followed by black berries which persist well into winter. This species differs from all other evergreen
hollies by lacking spines on the leaves, only having teeth toward the tip of the leaves.
The Gallberry is a member of the holly family (family Aquifoliaceae) which includes shrubs and trees, small to medium-sized, rarely large; 300-350 species, nearly all in the holly genus
) in tropical and temperate regions, especially tropical America; 14 native tree
and 2 native shrub
species in North America. Leaves: alternate, simple,
generally leathery and evergreen,
sometimes with tiny stipules. Flowers: small, few clustered along twigs, whitish or greenish, regular, generally male and female on separate plants or bisexual; calyx
with 4 (sometimes 5) tiny sepals
or teeth; 4 (5) rounded whitish petals sometimes united at base, 4 (5) alternate stamens
inserted at base of corolla,
without disk, and 1 pistil
with superior ovary
of 4 (3-5) cells of 1-2 ovules each, usually without style,
and 3-5 stalkless stigmas. Fruit: a round drupe
red, black, or yellow, with stalkless stigmas, bitter pulp, and 3-5 nutlets.
Image Gallery: 3 photo(s) available
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Leaf Retention: Evergreen Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf Shape: Elliptic
, Obovate Leaf Texture:
Leathery Breeding System:
, Monoecious Fruit Type: Drupe Size Notes: Shrub
up to 12 feet tall, with extensive rhizomes, often forming colonies. Leaf: Alternate, simple, evergreen,
pointed at the tip, tapering to the base, smooth, usually with a few teeth in the upper half, often reddish and dotted on the lower surface, shiny on the upper surface, up to 2 inches long, up to 3/4 inch wide; leaf stalks hairy, up to 1/3 inch long. Flower:
Male and female flowers borne separately on the same plant, or male and female flowers borne on separate plants; male flowers 3-7 in a cluster in the axils of the leaves; female flowers 1-3 in the axils of the leaves, on stalks up to 1/2 inch long. Fruit:
Drupes black at maturity, spherical, up to 1/4 inch in diameter, containing 5-8 nutlets. Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
, VA Canada: NS Native Distribution:
Coastal plain from N.S. to FL,
w. to LA Native Habitat:
Bogs; wet woods of coastal plains
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet , Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Sandy to peaty, acid soil.
Conditions Comments: Flood tolerant. You must have both a male and female plant to have berries. The male must be the same species as the female and bloom at the same time. Because hollies are such popular landscape plants, it may be worth the risk to plant a female and hope there is a male nearby. Withstands heavy pruning and renewal of old plants is suggested. Pest free. Considered weedy in some areas.
BenefitUse Wildlife: High.
Warning: All Ilex species may be somewhat toxic if ingested. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.