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Ilex myrtifolia (Myrtle dahoon)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Ilex myrtifolia

Ilex myrtifolia Walter

Myrtle Dahoon, Myrtle Leaf Holly, Myrtle Holly

Aquifoliaceae (Holly Family)

Synonym(s): Ilex cassine var. myrtifolia

USDA Symbol: ilmy

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

An evergreen shrub or small tree, usually not exceeding 15-18 ft. The rigid, elliptic leaves have smooth margins and axillary, greenish-white flowers which are not showy. The fruits on the female trees are red, sometimes orange or yellow, and often persist to spring.


From the Image Gallery

3 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

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

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun


USA: AL , FL , GA , LA , MS , NC , SC , TX
Native Distribution: Coastal Plain from NC to FL, w. to LA
Native Habitat: Swamp margins; low, sandy areas; bays

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Moist, sandy soil.
Conditions Comments: This species is sometimes considered a variety of Ilex cassine, which has wider leaves. 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.


Description: 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

Shrub for part shade for hedge in Holly Ridge NC
April 07, 2010
We live in Coastal NC. We would like a type of shrub for the front of our home which is partial shade, similar style to a boxwood or trainable hedge. What NC native would compare?
view the full question and answer

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:

Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2013-09-07
Research By: TWC Staff

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