A frequent evergreen shrub or small tree of hammocks, swamps, flatwoods and dunes throughout the panhandle and into the central peninsula almost to Lake Okeechobee. Not present in all inland counties. The range extends throughout the southeastern coastal states from Virginia to Texas, plus Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Growing to 8 m (26 ft.) tall, with small white flowers appearing in the leaf axils in spring, and bright red round berries 5-7 mm (~1/4 in.) in diameter in the fall and winter. The stiff leaves are alternate, elliptic to oval, and the margins are crenate all the way around. Leaves are typically 0.5-3 cm (0.2-1.2 in.) long and 0.5-2.4 cm (0.2-1 in.) wide, although occasionally plants will have much larger leaves.
This is a widely used landscape plant that requires well drained soil and is tolerant of shade. Since hollies are dioecious plants - meaning that each plant is either male or female - to assure that you will have berries both a male and female plant must be present. The male and female flowers appear superficially similar, although the male flowers typically grow in clusters of more than 2, while female flowers are usually solitary or in pairs. Close inspection will reveal a small roundish green ovary with a cap-like stigma in the center of the female flowers. The male flowers have four stamens with yellow anthers. Female flowers have four non-functioning stamens, called staminodes, that are mostly white.
Ilex vomitoria is a member of the Aquifoliaceae - Holly family.
Other species of the Ilex genus in the Wild Florida Photo database:
Ilex ambigua var. ambigua - CAROLINA HOLLY
Ilex cassine var. cassine - DAHOON HOLLY
Ilex opaca var. arenicola - SCRUB HOLLY
Ilex opaca var. opaca - AMERICAN HOLLY
Date record last modified: Apr 04, 2020