American Holly

Published 11:11 am Thursday, January 4, 2018

American holly (Ilex opaca) is a small evergreen tree native to the eastern United States. It occurs on Alligator River, Pocosin Lakes, Mattamuskeet, and Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuges in the understories of forests. It is most common on upland soils, such as in the area around National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center on Roanoke Island. American holly is associated with holiday decorations and ornamental plantings, but plays an important role in wildlife conservation. The flowers provide food for small bees in April and May. The red berries mature in November and persist on the plants throughout the winter until songbirds or small mammals eat them. The evergreen foliage is an excellent cover for songbirds and quail & rabbits. Ground-dwelling birds hide under plants that have branches down to the earth.