Ilex myrtifolia - Walter
Aquifoliaceae (Holly) Family
Myrtle-leaf Holly is an evergreen shrub or small tree with a broad, dense crown of many crooked branches and lance-like leaves. Height is usually no more than 18-20 feet with a trunk diameter of about six inches. Its preferred habitat is border of ponds, swamps, pine or baldcypress forests. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.
The leaves are 2- to- 3 inches long and about 3/8 inch wide, bristle-tipped and short-pointed at the base. The texture is thick and stiff. The leaf edges are turned under and usually without teeth; wide midvein and obscure side veins, short leaf stalks, dark green above and pale beneath. The leaves crowded on the stem.
Flowers are in the leaf axil; tiny and rounded; four white petals, short flower stalks. Flowers occur in the spring. Male and female flowers are on separate plants. The usually bright red berries may be yellow or orange and mature in the autumn.
Myrtle Dahoon is closely related to Dahoon Holly and has been considered a variety of that species. However, the latter has larger, broader leaves and grows in rich, wet soil. The names of both refer to the resemblance of the leaves to those of the unrelated true Myrtle; a native of the Mediterranean region. This is often called Christmas Yaupon, as its evergreen leaves and bright berries are commonly used as a Christmas decoration.