Ilex glabra (L.) A. Gray
Aquifoliaceae (Holly Family)
USDA Symbol: ILGL
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 (Ilex) 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 or berry, red, black, or yellow, with stalkless stigmas, bitter pulp, and 3-5 nutlets.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic , Obovate
Leaf Texture: Leathery
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Dioecious , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Shrub up to 12 feet tall, with extensive rhizomes, often forming colonies.
Leaf: Alternate, simple, evergreen, leathery, obovate to elliptic, 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: 6-12 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , LA , MA , MD , ME , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , PA , RI , SC , TX , VA
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: Moist , Wet
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.
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial Value to Honey Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
PropagationDescription: Ilex seeds exhibit a dormancy. Patience is probably more important than cold treatment for germination. Cuttings root about any time of year.
Seed Collection: Collect fruit in fall. Crush pulp and wash away. Seeds which float should be throw away as they are not viable.
Seed Treatment: Some benefit may be obtained from 30-60 days treatment at 68-86 degrees followed by 60-90 days of 41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Shrubs for playground barrier hedge in Darien CT
December 07, 2009
I am working on my Eagle Scout project which is a barrier hedge in front of a playground at our town's baseball field to protect the kids from getting hit by balls. The fence would be 4 feet tall an...
view the full question and answer
Native shrub to replace non-native azaleas.
February 10, 2009
I want to replace my two dozen azaleas this spring (I think they're unattractive once the flowers fall off). I like the multiseason characteristics of weigela (midnight wine, W&R), but want to go na...
view the full question and answer
Evergreen screening shrubs for New York
May 27, 2008
I need evergreen screening shrubs that aren't too deep. The shrubs are to be planted along an existing wrought iron fence, which is a few feet behind a children's swing set.
view the full question and answer
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Suppliers DirectoryAccording to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Georgia Native Plant Society - Atlanta, GA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 17 - Southern Wetland Flora: Field Office Guide to Plant Species (0) U.S. Department of Agriculture. No date. Southern wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. U.S.D.A. Soil Conservation Service, South Nat...
From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter 1992 VOL. 9, NO.1 - Research Update, Creating Native Lawn with Sod, Director's Report, What Makes Pl...
Wildflower Newsletter 1998 VOL. 15, NO.5 - Native Shrubs Providing Landscape Heritage and Habitat, Executive Director\'s Re...
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Ilex glabra in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Ilex glabra in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Ilex glabra
MetadataRecord Modified: 2014-05-12
Research By: TWC Staff