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Dahoon Holly Ilex cassine

Phonetic Spelling
EYE-leks ka-SI-nee
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Ilex cassine, or Dahoon, is a native holly that tolerates wet and shady sites and is moderately salt tolerant; however, it is not winter hardy and does not tolerate the cold. It is a small tree native to the moist woods of the coastal plains, typically found uncultivated in swamps and in rich moist soils. Occasionally it is also found on high sandy banks of pine barren streams. Dahoon is relatively rare and may be difficult to find.

Dahoon is somewhat shrubby and dense with red berries and gray bark and while it grows up to 20 to 30 feet in the wild, it is usually smaller in the landscape. The foliage lacks the prominent spines or teeth of the American holly and the plant produces a nice fruit set in fall and winter.  Dahoon is dioecious (meaning individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). It is pollinated by bees and the plant is not self-fertile. It is a worthwhile and underused selection for the home landscape.

Dahoon will grow in full sun or partial shade and prefers a moist site and acidic soil. The plant does not do well when its roots are disturbed,so you should place the plants into their permanent positions, and provide some winter protection for their first year or two. Flowers are produced on the current year's growth. The plant is very tolerant of pruning and can be cut right back to old wood if required.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

Dahoon is relatively pest and disease-free.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Angustifolia'
    has narrower leaves
'Angustifolia'
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#red-orange#interesting bark#white flowers#shrub#wildlife plants#yellow flowers#nectar plant#salt tolerant#fall interest#berries#playground#specialized bees#moist soil#disease resistant#pest resistant#children's garden#edible fruits#fruits fall#pollinator plant#holly#rare#food source winter#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#bee friendly#winter fruits#audubon#coastal plant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Angustifolia'
    has narrower leaves
'Angustifolia'
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#red-orange#interesting bark#white flowers#shrub#wildlife plants#yellow flowers#nectar plant#salt tolerant#fall interest#berries#playground#specialized bees#moist soil#disease resistant#pest resistant#children's garden#edible fruits#fruits fall#pollinator plant#holly#rare#food source winter#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#bee friendly#winter fruits#audubon#coastal plant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ilex
    Species:
    cassine
    Family:
    Aquifoliaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    This plant has been used by Native Americans for soap and medicinal purposes.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern United States, Mexico, Bahamas, Cuba, Puerto Rico
    Distribution:
    Virginia to Florida and west to Texas.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Winter food sources for birds and wildlife. Fruits are attractive to birds. Members of the genus Ilex support the following specialized bee: Colletes banksi.
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wind Break
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Particularly resistant to pests and diseases
    Edibility:
    Use caution. Human consumption of berries can cause minor toxic reaction.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 20 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Conical
    Erect
    Open
    Oval
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8b, 8a, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Red/Burgundy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Produces a fruit that has a globose berry-like drupe, is red-orange in color, and is very small in size (less than 1/10 of an inch). Occurs in clusters from fall through winter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Description:
    Produces yellow-white, but insignificant, blossoms in spring.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Smooth
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cuneate
    Oblanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are alternate, simple, and narrowly oblanceolate. Leaves are usually entire, but can have a few, sharp teeth at the apex. They can be acute or rounded, cuneate, glabrous, and a medium green hue above and below. The underside of the wax-myrtle type leaves have no glands.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Light Gray
    White
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark of branches is smooth and pale gray or white, depending on the lichens growing on the bark.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Lawn
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Recreational Play Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Insect Pests
    Salt
    Wet Soil
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Minor toxicity. Ingestion may cause vomiting, diarrhea, or other illness in humans.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Saponins
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits