Index of Species Information
SPECIES: Ilex decidua
SPECIES: Ilex decidua
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:
Sullivan, Janet. 1993. Ilex decidua. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station,
Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:
Updates: On 29 January 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: delicious holly
to: possumhaw. Images were also added.
Ilex cuthbertii Small
Ilex curtissii (Fern) Small
Ilex decidua var. curtissii Fern.
SCS PLANT CODE:
The scientific name of possumhaw is Ilex decidua Walt. [8, 20].
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
No special status
Possumhaw is state-listed as threatened in Florida .
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Ilex decidua
Possumhaw is found throughout the southeastern United States, from
Virginia west to southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and eastern
Kansas; south to Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, south-central Texas,
and northeastern Mexico [8,10].
|Possumhaw distribution. 1977 USDA, Forest Service map provided by Thompson and others
FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress
FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood
AL AR FL GA IL IN KS KY LA MD
MS MO NC OK SC TN TX VA WV MEXICO
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS:
14 Great Plains
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:
K083 Cedar glades
K084 Cross Timbers
K089 Black Belt
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
K113 Southern floodplain forest
SAF COVER TYPES:
46 Eastern redcedar
64 Sassafras - persimmon
65 Pin oak - sweetgum
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
87 Sweet gum - yellow-poplar
88 Willow oak - water oak - diamondleaf oak
89 Live oak
91 Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak
92 Sweetgum - willow oak
93 Sugarberry - American elm - green ash
94 Sycamore - sweetgum - American elm
96 Overcup oak - water hickory
97 Atlantic white-cedar
98 Pond pine
102 Baldcypress - tupelo
103 Water tupelo - swamp tupelo
104 Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES:
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:
Possumhaw is not a dominant or indicator species in habitat
typings. It occurs in a variety of cover types and has a number of
associated species. The most common overstory and midstory associates
not previously mentioned include red maple (Acer rubrum), winged elm
(Ulmus alata), blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica), southern red oak (Quercus
falcata), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), tree huckleberry
(Vaccinium arboreum), American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), American
holly (Ilex opaca), and yaupon (I. vomitoria). Understory associates
include rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum), Alabama supplejack
(Berchemia scandens), trumpetcreeper (Campis radicans), grapes (Vitis
spp.), and greenbriers (Smilax spp.) [16,18,21,23,26,27,34,37,40].
SPECIES: Ilex decidua
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE:
Possumhaw fruits are consumed by small mammals, songbirds and game
birds, including eastern bluebirds, wild turkeys, and quail. They are
also eaten by white-tailed deer [10,13]. White-tailed deer and cattle
browse both leaves and twigs .
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
OTHER USES AND VALUES:
Possumhaw is planted as an ornamental .
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Possumhaw is moderately tolerant to periodic flooding. Mature
trees can withstand flooding of up to 35 percent of the growing season.
Saplings have survived 105 days of flooding from March to July .
Near Alton, Illinois, possumhaw maintained vigorous growth through
4 years of continuous flooding, but declined in the fifth year . It
is more likely to survive in frequently flooded plots than is common
persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) or elms (Ulmus spp.) .
Possumhaw can suppress regeneration of timber species .
Control: Possumhaw is susceptible to stem injection of 2,4-D and
glyphosate [10,22]. Possumhaw seedling counts were highest on
bottomland hardwood sites that had been harvested and site-prepared by
herbicide stem injection of all stems larger than 2 inches (5 cm) d.b.h.
The lowest numbers of possumhaw seedlings occurred on sites that
had been harvested and site-prepared by shearing . When managing
for white-tailed deer, burning or slashing possumhaw stems is
preferable to herbicide application; the sprouts resulting from those
treatments provide deer browse .
Possumhaw is a good choice in plantings for wildlife; individual
plant fruit production is consistent from year to year, and a high
percentage (greater than 70 percent) of individuals bear fruit .
Increase: Production of possumhaw browse was highest under medium-
thinning intensity in loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) plantations .
Possumhaw can be propagated by cuttings .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Ilex decidua
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Possumhaw is a native, large shrub or small tree. The average
maximum height at maturity is 33 feet (10 m) [8,10,42]. The bark is
smooth or slightly roughened [10,30]. The fruit is a four- to
seven-seeded berry .
The national champion (1981), located in South Carolina, is 3 feet
(9 m) in circumference and 42 feet (12.8 m) in height .
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM:
Possumhaw produces abundant, light seeds that are dispersed by
frugivores. In bottomland hardwood forests in Texas, first-year
seedling survivorship was good. Seedling survival increases with
distance from a conspecific or sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) adult.
Possumhaw seedlings grow slowly, about 0.4 to 0.8 inch (1-2 cm)
per year .
Possumhaw is usually found on moist soils of floodplains, low
woodlands, wet thickets, and along streams. It occurs infrequently on
well-drained wooded slopes or sandy pineland ridges [3,8,43]. It is
occasional in hydric hammocks in Florida . It occurs in elevations
of up to 1,180 feet (360 m) throughout its distribution .
Possumhaw is found in all successional stages. It colonizes areas
that have been disturbed by fire, and it is found in old-growth
bottomland hardwood forests [27,25].
Possumhaw was abundant in the third and fourth years after removal
of a young green ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica)-American elm (Ulmus
americana) stand .
Possumhaw flowers from March to May . The fruits ripen in
September and persist until the following spring . Seedling
emergence occurs before spring canopy development in early February, and
continues through May .
SPECIES: Ilex decidua
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:
Possumhaw grows in a number of habitats, some of which may be
subject to fire. Some resistance to fire is conferred by the ability to
sprout after top-kill. Its main fire adaptation is the ability to
colonize disturbed soils through animal-dispersed seed .
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find Fire Regimes".
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY:
Tall shrub, adventitious-bud root crown
Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)
SPECIES: Ilex decidua
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT:
Possumhaw is damaged, top-killed, or killed by light- or
moderate-severity fires [27,36]. After two prescribed fires in
loblolly-shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) stands, possumhaw
exhibited moderate mortality (up to 50 percent) after fires in cut-over
sawtimber-sized stands, and low mortality after fires in pulpwood-sized
timber . High mortality (up to 100 percent) of stems less than 1
inch (2.54 cm) in diameter occurred after winter prescribed fire in a
slash pine plantation .
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT:
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:
The number of possumhaw stems increased following prescribed
spring fires in loblolly-shortleaf pine stands. Fruit production
increased following fire, but since there was also a large increase in
fruit production on control plots, it was difficult to separate the
effects of fire from other effects .
Numerous possumhaw seedlings occured on loblolly-shortleaf pine
plots that received two prescribed fire treatments . Nine years
after wildfire in a loblolly pine community, possumhaw did not
occur on plots that had undergone surface fire only. Plots where fire
crowning occurred were colonized by seedlings resulting from
animal-dispersed seed .
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
The mean, ash-free caloric value for possumhaw leaves is 5,311
calories per gram. This value can be used in calculations to predict
heat release during fire on sites with possumhaw litter .
SPECIES: Ilex decidua
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