Swamp Holly - Deciduous Yaupon
Ilex decidua - Walter
Aquifoliaceae (Holly) Family
Possomhaw Holly is a deciduous shrub or sometimes a small tree with irregular or rounded crown. The height is usually about 15 feet, with a trunk diameter of 4 inches. Some specimen will develop small prickles along the twigs. Its preferred habitat is well-drained soils of upland forests, stream margins. The slender twigs are smooth and silvery gray, with numerous spur shoots, pointed lateral buds, and pointed scales. The plant is easily recognized in late autumn and winter by its lack of leaves and abundance of bright red berries. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.
The leaves are usually about 1/2 inch long and about 1/4 inch wide, shed in the winter, finely wavy toothed, elliptical, hairless or slightly hairy; alternate on the stem, deciduous in winter. The color is dull green above, paler beneath.
The flowers are about 1/4 inch wide with 4 (sometimes 5) rounded white petals, on short twigs. Male and female flowers are on separate plants. Flowers occur in the spring.
Fruit is red and berry-like, elliptical or round, translucent, and short-stalked. The 4 brown narrow grooved nutlets are enclosed in each pulpy berry, and mature in late summer.