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Publication #ENH458

Ilex cassine: Dahoon Holly1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2

Introduction

Attractive when tightly clipped into a tall screen or allowed to grow naturally into its single-trunked, small tree form, Dahoon Holly is ideal for a variety of landscape settings. Capable of reaching 40 feet in height, Dahoon Holly is usually seen at a height of 20 to 30 feet with an 8 to 12-foot spread. The smooth, supple, shiny dark green, evergreen leaves, two to three inches long, have just a few serrations near the tip. Possessing male and female flowers on separate plants, at least two Dahoon Hollies (male and female) must be planted in the landscape to ensure production of the brilliant red berries in fall and winter. The berries serve as an excellent food source for wildlife but are far less prevalent than on East Palatka or Fosters Holly.

Figure 1. 

Middle-aged Ilex cassine: Dahoon Holly


Credit:

Ed Gilman


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Ilex cassine
Pronunciation: EYE-lecks kuh-SIGH-nee
Common name(s): Dahoon Holly
Family: Aquifoliaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 7A through 11 (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: hedge; screen; specimen; street without sidewalk; deck or patio; reclamation; sidewalk cutout (tree pit); tree lawn 3-4 feet wide; tree lawn 4-6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; urban tolerant; Bonsai; highway median; container or planter
Availability: generally available
Figure 2. 

Range


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Description

Height: 20 to 30 feet
Spread: 8 to 12 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: pyramidal, oval
Crown density: open
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire, serrate
Leaf shape: elliptic (oval), oblong
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Foliage


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Flower

Flower color: white/cream/gray
Flower characteristics: not showy

Fruit

Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit covering: fleshy
Fruit color: red, yellow
Fruit characteristics: attracts squirrels/mammals; showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically multi-trunked; thorns
Pruning requirement: little required
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: green
Current year twig thickness: medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown

Culture

Light requirement: partial sun or partial shade, full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; slightly alkaline; acidic; extended flooding; well-drained
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate

Other

Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Growing well in full sun to partial shade, Dahoon Holly does best on moist soils since the wet, boggy soils of swamps is its native environment. Dahoon Holly can tolerate drier locations with some watering, but often has a thin crown in this environment. It is not recommended in the southern part of its range in a dry, exposed site unless irrigation is provided. It lends itself well to use as a specimen or street tree, and is ideal for naturalizing in moist locations. Little pruning is needed to create a well-structured, strong tree. It appears to adapt well to the confined spaces of urban and downtown landscapes and is tolerant of some salt spray. The crown is fuller in full sun.

Ilex cassine var. angustifolia , Alabama Dahoon, has narrower, more linear leaves than the species and more abundant but smaller berries. Ilex myrtifolia has smaller leaves and fruit, and its cultivar `Lowei' has yellow berries and dark green foliage.

Propagation is by seeds, which germinate in one year, or by cuttings. Cuttings are preferred since they give plants of a known sex and also root easily.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern. A twig gall sometimes forms in response to a fungus infection. Mites can infest foliage on trees planted on dry sites.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH458, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson,former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.