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Common Name:


Scientific Name:

Ilex decidua

Family Name:



Possumhaw is a large shrub or small tree frequently encountered in or near seasonally wet areas in Central and East Texas (also much of Eastern USA). While this deciduous holly is fairly nondescript in summer, female plants can become a blaze of color in the fall and winter landscape. The red, orange, or yellow fruit can be a star of a bleak winter scene. Purchase a named clone or select females when in fruit. Good as a winter specimen, shrub border, winter patio plant, or for naturalizing.

Plant Habit or Use:

Shrub, large shrub, tree, small tree


sun, partial sun, shade

Flower Color:

Yellow-green, not ornamental

Blooming Period:


Fruit Characteristics:

On female plants, outstanding red, orange, yellow-orange, or pale yellow, effective throughout fall and winter


8 ft to 12 ft, can occasionally reach 20 ft


6 ft to 10 ft

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: Medium Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: Medium Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Medium Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: Medium Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Low Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

Firewise Index

Explanation of the Firewise Index numerical value

USDA Hardiness Zones:

4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas Region H - Rio Grande Valley
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Can tolerate heavy clay soils or ones that are slightly alkaline, but is not as vigorous as on more favorable sites. Frequently located on sites with seasonal flooding.
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A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.