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Ilex cassine (Dahoon)
Holmes, James Garland

Ilex cassine

Ilex cassine L.


Aquifoliaceae (Holly Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), PR (I)

Dahoon is typically a small, evergreen tree, 20-30 ft. high and 8-15 ft. wide. Stiff, oval, evergreen leaves are a glossy, medium-green. The greenish-white, axillary flowers are inconspicuous, while the 1/4 in. diameter fruits, some persisting until spring, range from bright-red to bright-yellow and can be produced in great quantities.

Planted as an ornamental for the evergreen foliage and profuse red fruit used in Christmas decorations. The common name apparently is of American Indian origin.


From the Image Gallery

9 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 30 feet tall.
Leaf: Dark Green
Fruit: Although technically drupes, the fruit is commonly referred to as berries.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: AL , FL , GA , LA , MS , NC , SC , TX
Native Distribution: Coastal Plain from NC to e. TX
Native Habitat: Moist woods; cypress ponds; marsh margins; bays

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Hybrids between this species and I. opaca occur naturally in the wild. Popular garden selections have been made from these hybrids.


Description: Seeds germinate best if planted immediately after collection. They may be pretreated with double-stratification but the essential element seems to be time. Once internal conditions in the seed are right (it may take years), it will germinate in warm moi
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

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

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
Wellspring Organic Farm and Education Center - West Bend, WI


Bibref 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

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2017-11-09
Research By: TWC Staff

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