Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Ilex opaca


SPECIES: Ilex opaca
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Coladonato, Milo. 1991. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : ILEOPA SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : ILOP ILOPA COMMON NAMES : American holly dune holly hummock holly scrub holly TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of American holly is Ilex opaca Ait. The Ilex genus consists of 13 species belonging to the holly family (Aquifoliaceae). There are no forms or subspecies of American holly. Recognized varieties include [21,34]: I. opaca var. opaca American holly I. opaca var. arenicola (Ashe) Ashe scrub or hummock holly I. opaca hybridizes with I. cassine to produce I. x attenata Ashe [47]. LIFE FORM : Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Ilex opaca
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : From the maritime forests of Massachusetts, American holly is scattered along the coast to Delaware. It grows inland to several Pennsylvania counties and to extreme southeastern Ohio. It occurs abundantly southward throughout the Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and Appalachians. Its range extends south to mid-peninsular Florida and west to eastern Texas and southern Missouri [23,46]. It is cultivated in Hawaii [49] ECOSYSTEMS : FRES10 White - red - jack pine FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress STATES : AL AR CT DE FL GA HI KY LA MA MD MS MO NC OH OK PA RI SC TN TX VA WV BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K089 Black Belt K090 Live oak - sea oats K095 Great Lakes pine forest K100 Oak - hickory forest K104 Appalachian oak forest K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest K114 Pocosin K115 Sand pine - scrub SAF COVER TYPES : 21 Eastern white pine 40 Post oak - blackjack oak 43 Bear oak 44 Chestnut oak 45 Pitch pine 46 Eastern redcedar 51 White pine - chestnut oak 52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak 53 White oak 57 Yellow poplar 58 Yellow poplar - eastern hemlock 59 Yellow poplar - white oak - northern red oak 61 River birch - sycamore 64 Sassafras - persimmon 65 Pin oak - sweetgum 69 Sand pine 70 Longleaf pine 71 Longleaf pine - scrub oak 72 Southern scrub oak 73 Southern redcedar 74 Cabbage palmetto 75 Shortleaf pine 76 Shortleaf pine - oak 78 Virginia pine - oak 79 Virginia pine 80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine 81 Loblolly pine 82 Loblolly pine - hardwood 83 Longleaf pine - slash pine 84 Slash pine 85 Slash pine - hardwood 87 Sweetgum - yellow poplar 88 Willow oak - water oak - diamondleaf oak 89 Live oak 91 Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak 92 Sweetgum - willow oak 96 Overcup oak - water hickory 97 Atlantic white cedar 98 Pond pine 100 Pondcypress 101 Baldcypress 103 Water tupelo - swamp tupelo 104 Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - red bay 110 Black oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Ilex opaca
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : The wood of American holly is heavy, tough, and close-grained. It shrinks considerably, checks or warps badly unless properly seasoned, and is not durable under exposure [47]. The wood is used for veneer and to a limited extent as pulpwood and lumber. The greates use of the wood is for cabinets, interior finish, novelties, handles, fixtures, and scientific instruments. When dyed black to resemble ebony, it is used for piano keys, violin pegs, and fingerboards [23]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Birds are the principal consumers of American holly fruit, although deer, squirrels, and other small animals eat them. At least 18 species of birds, including songbirds, mourning doves, wild turkeys, and northern bobwhite, are known to eat the fruit [42,46]. Cattle and deer sometimes browse the foliage [9,18]. PALATABILITY : The palatability of American holly to white-tailed deer and cattle is considered poor. Deer and cattle generally consume American holly only when more preferred browse is unavailable [33]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Lay [32] listed nutrient percentage values for American holly browse collected in winter and summer on a pine-hardwood forest in Newton County, Texas: N-Free Phosphoric Protein Fat Fiber extract Ash acid Calcium Su 5.50 --- --- --- --- 0.14 --- W 6.73 3.16 26.10 46.17 2.84 0.14 0.70 These levels are low for protein and deficient for phosphoric acid, but high for calcium [32]. COVER VALUE : Cavities in American holly provide nesting habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker [28]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : American holly is useful for rehabilitating areas that have been damaged by salt spray. It is more resistant to damage from salt spray than any associated woody species in the maritime forest of New England [23,25]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : The attractiveness of American holly's foliage is its principal value, whether as a forest tree, planted ornamental, or Christmas decoration. It can be used for yard, street, park planting, or for hedges [6,47]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : American holly is considered an undesirable shrub that competes with pines and desirable hardwoods for light, moisture, and nutrients. Streamline basal application of the herbicide Garlon 4 is an effective means of controlling American holly [38]. The greatest damage to American holly trees is the indiscriminate harvesting of foliage with berries for Christmas decorating. Before laws were passed in Maryland and Delaware to protect the holly, there was a "roadside" market for holly collected from trees that did not belong to the harvesters. Trees were left mutilated and many died [23].


SPECIES: Ilex opaca
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : American holly is a native evergreen tree that grows to 50 feet (16 m) [12,17]. Its evergreen leaves are leathery, with sharp pointed tips and spiny toothed margins. The branches are short and crooked, and the crown is rounded or pyramidal. The greenish white flowers are unisexual, dioecious, and borne on short-stalked, axillary cymose clusters. The fruit is a round, bright red, orange, or occasionally yellow, four-seeded drupe or pyrene. The bark is thin, gray, and often warty [21,40] RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Panerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual: American holly is pollinated by insects, including bees, ants, wasps, and night-flying moths [23]. Seed germination is slow, requiring 16 months to 3 years in nature [46]. Seeds are mainly dispersed by birds and small mammals [10,13]. Seed production may be low in years of heavy spring rain, as rain can diminish the wide dissemination of pollen. A frost can kill the spring flowers, eliminating the fruit crop. Frequent prescribed burning will also reduce fruit production [20]. Vegetative: American holly sprouts from basal dormant buds [23,44]. Propagation: Transplanting of young holly trees should be done during the dormant season, usually November through March. Small plants may be dug bare-rooted if roots are kept moist, but larger plants should be balled and burlapped. When wild hollies are transplanted from the woods, tops should be severely pruned and most of the remaining leaves removed. Small trees should be allowed to flower before transplanting to ensure the selection of fruit-bearing individuals. Root pruning to a depth of 2 to 3 feet (0.6-0.9 m) a year before lifting improves transplanting success. Holly can be produced from cuttings taken in August or September and December. Cuttings should be taken from the current season's ripened wood, with a small section of 2-year-old wood including several leaves. Cuttings should be set slanting in about 6 inches (15 cm) of moist peatmoss, with the leaves lying flat on the surface [23]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : American holly is primarily a plant of the humid Southeast. It occupies a wide variety of soils, from nearly sterile Inceptisols of the Atlantic sandy beaches to fertile but thin mountain Ultisols to an elevation of approximately 3,000 feet (915 m) [12,23]. The largest trees are found in the rich bottomlands and swamps of the Coastal Plain. Growth is best in moist, slightly acidic, well-drained sites such as upland pine sites and hammocks [8,11]. Trees will not survive flooding or saturated soils for more than 17 percent of the growing season. In the northeastern portion of its range, holly is found on sandy soils on the Coast and on dry gravely soils farther inland [2,12]. American holly is a common understory component in the longleaf pine (Pinus palustris)-slash pine (P. elliotti) forests of the Coastal Plain. Other common associates include sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), red maple (Acer rubrum), white oak (Quercus alba), water oak (Q. nigra), hickory (Carya spp.), white ash (Fraxinus americana), yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), black tupelo (Nysaa sylvatica), southern red oak (Quercus falcata), and post oak (Q. stellata) [23]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : American holly is seldom dominant because of its slow growth and relatively short stature [3,16]. It is very shade tolerant and can survive in the understory of most forest canopies [20]. American holly's slow growth allows faster growing species to overtop it. Shade and root competition in natural stands reduces the average height of hollies compared with those growing in full sunlight. Crown area is reduced by more than one-third under medium shade and by more than one-half under heavy shade [23,30]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : American holly begins flowering in April in the southern parts of its range and in June at its northern limits. The fruit ripen from September through December and remain on the tree through most of the winter [46,47].


SPECIES: Ilex opaca
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : American holly is susceptible to aboveground fire damage. It may persist by sprouting from the root crown. [1,7,14]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2


SPECIES: Ilex opaca
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire easily top-kills American holly [37]. Its thin bark is easily injured by fire [24,26]. The cambium layer is destroyed and the leaves and crown defoliated. Even large trees may be killed by light fires in the understory [27,48]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : American holly sprouts from surviving basal buds following fire [31]. Initial growth after fire is slow, averaging about 6 feet (1.8 m) in 16 years under medium shade [23]. Three annual fires in a southern pine forest reduced the number of fruit-producing holly trees by 95 percent [27]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Fire is a very effective agent for controlling American holly. Seedlings and sprouts can usually be eliminated as a result of normal underburning regimes in most commercial pine stands [48].


SPECIES: Ilex opaca
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