The leaves of the American Holly are 2″ to 4″ long with spiny margins and a leathery texture. They are a deep green and stay attached all year (evergreen). It has an elliptic shape and pinnate veins.
Twig and Bud Identification
The twig tends to be slender and hairy (pubescent). The buds tend to be reddish to brown.
The American Holly has thin, gray bark that is usually smooth but can have warty projections.
The American Holly has bright red fruit that are 1/4″ to 1/2″ diameter. They are drupes but interestingly have four seeds. They ripen in fall and tend to stay attached into winter. Many wild animals love these bitter fruit, but it is toxic to humans.
The flowers of the American Holly are greenish-white. The males have 2-12 flower clusters on cymes, and the females have solitary 2-3 flower clusters from leaf axils. It is a dioecious plant, meaning each individual will either have male or female flowers but not both.