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Ilex myrtifolia

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Ilex cassine var. myrtifolia
Phonetic Spelling
EYE-leks mir-tih-FOH-lee-uh
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Myrtle leaf holly is a shrub in the Aquifoliaceae family with red berries and gray bark. It 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 can be found in the moist woods of the coastal plains, uncultivated in swamps and in rich moist soils. Occasionally it is also found on high sandy banks of pine barren streams. The plant is noted for its very nice red and yellow fruit set in fall and winter and would make a good hedge in a wetland area. 

Myrtle leaf holly 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. The foliage lacks the prominent spines or teeth of the American holly and 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. Propagate by softwood cuttings in spring. If you are using seeds, most holly species require 2-3 years of dormancy before they will germinate.

 Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

Myrtle leaf holly is relatively pest and disease-free.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#interesting bark#white flowers#wildlife plant#native shrub#salt tolerant#winter interest#wetlands#showy fruits#hedges#specialized bees#moist soil#fruits fall#pollinator plant#holly#evergreen shrub#wet soils tolerant#food source birds
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#interesting bark#white flowers#wildlife plant#native shrub#salt tolerant#winter interest#wetlands#showy fruits#hedges#specialized bees#moist soil#fruits fall#pollinator plant#holly#evergreen shrub#wet soils tolerant#food source birds
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ilex
    Species:
    myrtifolia
    Family:
    Aquifoliaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Alabama
    Distribution:
    Virginia to Florida and west to Texas. Mexico, Bahamas, Cuba, Puerto Rico
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    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
    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: 8 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Conical
    Open
    Oval
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    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:
    7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Berry like drupe 1/4 inch diameter, usually red but may be yellow; persistent from fall through winter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Insignificant
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are dioecious. The male flowers are small, greenish white in short branched clusters. The female flowers have 4 small greenish white petals and can occur solitary or in small clusters.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Oblanceolate
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Thick shiny evergreen leaves are oblong, oblanceolate or lanceolate, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long with entire margins or sometimes a few sharp teeth above the middle. The underside of the wax-myrtle type leaves have no glands and are paler.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Dark Gray, thin, smooth to warty when young but becoming scaly with age.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Lawn
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    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