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More To Know About Our Native Plants: The American Holly

by | Feb 5, 2015 | Native Plants

The slow-growing Native American Holly may reach up to 30 feet with a diameter of 12 inches. Its round shiny red berries are attractive to people and provide food for songbirds.

This lovely tree, with medium-green foliage, is tolerant of urban conditions, salt and drought, which makes it an ideal planting in your yard, here in Florida. Holly trees like acidic or slightly alkaline soils that are clay, loamy or sandy in nature. They prefer sites with partial shade and good drainage.

History and Lore
Holly has symbolized various beliefs to many cultures throughout the ages – such as Greek, Roman and Chinese – with meanings such as insight and goodwill. Many Europeans believed the tree would protect their homes from evil spirits and lightning strikes.

Past and Present Uses
Historically, the holly berries were used as decorative buttons by several American Indian tribes. Other tribes coveted them and bartered for them.

Past cultures also used holly to treat cough, fever, measles, smallpox, kidney disease and pain caused by childbirth.

Today, the wood from the holly tree is used for the manufacturing of canes, scroll work, furniture and inlay work. And, the leaves and berries of the holly tree are very popular as holiday decorations.

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