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Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

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Ilex ambigua

Ilex ambigua (Michx.) Torr.

Carolina Holly, Sand Holly, Possum Holly

Aquifoliaceae (Holly Family)

Synonym(s): Ilex beadlei, Ilex buswellii, Ilex caroliniana, Ilex montana var. beadlei, Ilex montana var. mollis


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Deciduous shrub or sometimes a small tree with irregular or rounded crown.

This holly is recognized by the usually elliptical, rather than round, translucent fruit and by the petals, which sometimes number 5 instead of 4. The Latin species name, meaning "ambiguous" or "doubtful," suggests uncertainty in the classification when the species was first distinguished and named.


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Drupe
Fruit: Although technically drupes, the fruit is commonly referred to as berries.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr


USA: AL , AR , FL , GA , KY , LA , MS , NC , OK , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV
Native Distribution: North Carolina to central Florida, west to E. Texas and SE. Oklahoma; to 1000' (3-5 m).
Native Habitat: Moist well-drained soils of upland forests.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Ilex ambigua in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Ilex ambigua in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Ilex ambigua


Record Modified: 2023-01-02
Research By: TWC Staff

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