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Publication #ENH473

Ilex x attenuata 'East Palatka': 'East Palatka' Holly1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2

Introduction

Discovered in 1927 growing near East Palatka, Florida, this Holly is one of a group of hybrids between Ilex cassine x Ilex opaca . The broad, dull green, rounded leaves have one spine at the tip and few, if any, along the blade edge. The 30 to 45-foot-tall trees take on a moderately tight, pyramidal shape. A female Holly plant, East Palatka Holly is heavily laden with bright red berries in fall and winter, especially toward the top of the tree. A row of East Palatka Hollies will look quite uniform, adding to the popularity of the tree among landscape architects and designers.

Figure 1. 

Middle-aged Ilex x attenuata 'East Palatka': 'East Palatka' Holly


Credit:

Ed Gilman


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Ilex x attenuata
Pronunciation: EYE-lecks x uh-ten-yoo-AY-tuh
Common name(s): 'East Palatka' Holly
Family: Aquifoliaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 7A through 9B (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: hedge; container or planter; screen; specimen; street without sidewalk; parking lot island < 100 sq ft; parking lot island 100-200 sq ft; parking lot island > 200 sq ft; sidewalk cutout (tree pit); tree lawn 3-4 feet wide; tree lawn 4-6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; urban tolerant; highway median
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. 

Range


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Description

Height: 30 to 45 feet
Spread: 10 to 15 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: pyramidal, columnar
Crown density: moderate
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: spiny, entire, terminal spine
Leaf shape: elliptic (oval), oblong
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches, 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
Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

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

Culture

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

Other

Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: yes
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

East Palatka Holly makes a durable street tree throughout its range and is quite drought-tolerant once it becomes well-established. Most trees are sheared in the nursery, unfortunately, and this practice is often repeated in the landscape after planting. The natural shape of the tree is rarely seen but is a graceful pyramid of drooping branches growing from a strong central trunk, laden with bright red berries which remain on the trees until eaten by birds. The crown of East Palatka Holly grown with one central trunk is narrow, making it well-suited for urban areas having restricted vertical space.

Multi-stemmed, topped, and trimmed trees grow a wider crown and are probably not as suited for narrow, limited-space downtown sites as their single-stemmed counterparts. The tree should be grown with a central trunk. Young trees which are topped in the nursery grow several upright, multiple trunks. These eventually droop to the horizontal and then become more weeping, creating an unkempt, asymmetrical mess. Training the tree into a single-trunked tree will increase its durability and resistance to storm-damage, although many nurseries offer multi-trunked specimens. The tree grows well even in small tree pits carved out of downtown sidewalks.

East Palatka Holly grows quickly in full sun or partial shade on moist, acid soils. Growth is poor and foliage chlorotic on alkaline soil.

Another hybrid, `Savannah', is a fast-growing female plant which also produces abundant red berries. The foliage is light green and variably-spined.

Propagation is by cuttings or grafting.

Pests

Scale and leaf miners are the only pests which cause damage, and this is rare.

Diseases

No diseases are of major concern.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH473, 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.