Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours
Stratification: warm stratify for 60 days, cold stratify for 60 days
Germination: sow seed 3/8" deep, tamp the soil, keep moist, mulch the seed bed.
Other: seedlings need shade for their first year , Sporadic germination will occur over a 2-3 year period
Ilex opaca, commonly known as American Holly or Northern American Holly, is a medium-sized evergreen tree native to the eastern United States. It reaches heights of 10-20 meters, with exceptional specimens growing up to 30 meters tall. The tree typically has a trunk diameter of up to 50 cm, with some exceptional individuals measuring 120 cm in diameter. It has a pyramidal or open habit, with horizontal branches that may become contorted.
American Holly is often cultivated by nurseries as an ornamental plant, commonly used as a shrub or slow-growing tree. It features yellow-green spiny leaves and produces red fruits that persist through winter, providing ornamental interest. The tree must have both male and female plants to produce fruits.
The wood of Ilex opaca is highly valued for its attractive white color and is often used in cabinet making, veneers, and interior finishes of houses. It is a tough and close-grained wood that can be dyed to imitate ebony. The tree is also known for its cultural symbolism, being the state tree of Delaware and a popular Christmas decoration. In English poetry and stories, holly is associated with the merriment and greetings of the Christmas season.
Ecologically, American Holly typically grows as an understory tree in forests. While rare in the northern parts of its range, it is abundant in the southern coast and Gulf states, especially in bottomland areas. The tree's berries are important food for birds, while its thick canopy provides protection from predators and storms. The flowers are pollinated by insects.
Overall, Ilex opaca is a beautiful and versatile tree that offers aesthetic, ecological, and cultural benefits. With its attractive foliage, striking red fruits, and rich cultural significance, it is an excellent choice for gardeners and landscapers looking to enhance their outdoor spaces.