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Dahoon holly, Dahoon
Ilex cassine

Copyright by: George D. Gann

General Landscape Uses: Accent or specimen tree in moist to wet locations.

Ecological Restoration Notes: A common element of wetland thickets and swamp margins.

Availability: Widely cultivated. Available in Lake Worth at Indian Trails Native Nursery (561-641-9488) and at Amelia's SmartyPlants (561-540-6296)..

Description: Small to medium or rarely a large tree with variable crowns composed of numerous branches. Trunks often short, branching near the ground, 6-12 inches in diameter. Bark whitish to grayish to almost black, often covered with numerous lichens and other epiphytes. Leaves flat, leathery 2-4 inches long, dark above, paler beneath.

Dimensions: Typically 10-30 feet in height; to 68 feet in South Florida. Usually taller than broad.

Growth Rate: Moderate to slow.

Range: Southeastern United States west to Texas and south to Miami Dade County and the Monroe County mainland; Bahamas, Cuba, Mexico and Central America. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website.

Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

Habitats: Swamps and moist forests.

Soils: Wet to moist, moderately well-drained to poorly-drained organic or sandy soils, often with acid pH.

Nutritional Requirements: High; requires rich organic soils for optimal growth.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.

Drought Tolerance: Moderate to low; requires moist to wet soils, but tolerant of short periods of drought once established.

Light Requirements: Full sun to light shade.

Flower Color: Yellowish-white.

Flower Characteristics: Inconspicuous. Dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants.

Flowering Season: All year; peak in spring.

Fruit: A 1/4" diameter drupe, usually red, sometimes yellow or orange. Mostly ripening in the fall. Edible but not tasty.

Wildlife and Ecology: Provides significant food and cover for wildlife. Deer browse the young growth. Small mammals, turkey, quail, red-eyed vireos and other songbirds eat the fruits.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from de-pulped seed after the fruit is fully ripe. Clean and plant right away; the seeds do not store well. Plant in a container with at least 2" of soil. Sprinkle soil to just cover the seeds. Place in partial shade. Also grown from cuttings, best treated with a rooting hormone.

Comments: This small tree is excellent for low spots in the garden. The red berries make an excellent holiday decoration.

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: Steven W. Woodmansee

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Don & Joyce Gann

Copyright by: George D. Gann
Bark with lichens

Other data on Ilex cassine available from:

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