Ilex decidua is a deciduous holly that is commonly called possum haw. It occurs on limestone glades and bluffs, along streams in wet woods, lowland valleys, sloughs, and swamps. An upright shrub with a spreading, rounded crown typically grows 7-15' tall in cultivation. Obovate, narrow, glossy, dark green leaves turn dull purplish green to yellow in autumn. The whitish flowers of both male and female plants are relatively inconspicuous. Pollinated female flowers give way to orange-red berries, which ripen in September and persist throughout the winter until mid-March, when new growth begins. Birds, deer, and a variety of small mammals are attracted to the fruit.
They are quickly grown in average, medium moisture soil in full sun to part shade. Adaptable to light and heavy soils but prefers moist, acidic, organic soils. They have some tolerance for wet conditions. Plants of this species are mostly dioecious, but some plants have perfect flowers. For the best show of berries, plant female plants with at least one male plant to ensure pollination. These shrubs are known to make suckers from the base. Keep your pruners sharp to shape in early spring or remove unwanted new growth.
Light: Full Sun, Part Shade, Dappled Shade
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Origin: North America