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Common Name:

American Holly

Scientific Name:

Ilex opaca

Family Name:



Largest of the evergreen hollies generally used in Texas landscapes. Native to the Eastern USA, this is one of the most cold tolerant of the evergreen hollies, hardy into USDA zone 5 with protection. The foliage of the species is an attractive, but duller green than some of the improved cultivars. The form is pyramidal in youth, broadening to an oval with age.

Plant Habit or Use:

Shrub, large shrub, tree, small tree, medium tree


sun, partial sun

Flower Color:

Light green, inconspicous

Blooming Period:


Fruit Characteristics:

Dull red or yellow berries are a major fall / winter asset


25 ft to 35 ft, rarely 50 ft


15 ft to 20 ft

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: Low Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: High 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:

5, 6, 7, 8

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
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Generally a tough holly, but tends to suffer in our South Texas heat and high pH soils. Holly leaf miners (Phytomyza ilicicola) can disfigure the foliage.
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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.