(Aquifoliaceae Ilex opaca aiton)
Adopted on May 1, 1939.
The American Holly, Aquifoliaceae
Ilex opaca aiton, is regarded as one
of Delaware's most important forest
trees. Often called Christmas holly or
evergreen holly, the tree has dark,
thorny-leaved foliage and red berries.
In Delaware, the tree can reach a
maximum of 60 feet in height and a trunk
diameter of 20 inches.
When the Pilgrims landed the week
before Christmas in 1620 on the coast of
what is now Massachusetts, the
evergreen, prickly leaves and red
berries of American holly (Ilex opaca)
reminded them of the English holly (Ilex
aquifolium), a symbol of Christmas for
centuries in England and Europe (13,26).
Since then American holly, also called
white holly or Christmas holly, has been
one of the most valuable and popular
trees in the Eastern United States for
its foliage and berries, used for
Christmas decorations, and for
§ 305. State tree.
The American holly ( Ilex opaca,
Aiton ) is adopted as the state
tree. (42 Del. Laws, c. 86; 29 Del.
C. 1953, § 505.)
- Leaf: Alternate, simple,
and persistant, thickened and
leathery, eliptical in shape, 2 to 4
inches long, dark green and shiny
above, pale green below with entire
or spiney-toothed margins.
- Flower: Dioecious, dull
green-white, male flowers on 3 to 7
flowered cymes, female flowers are
solitary with a pleasant odor.
Flowers apparent April to June.
- Fruit: A berrylike drupe,
red, rarely yellow when ripe, 1/4
inch in diameter, containing ribbed
nutlets. Maturing September to
October, persisting on tree into
- Twig: Slender with
- Bark: Light gray, with
- Form: A small tree, with
a thick crown and pyramidal form,
usually with branches to the ground.
Plantae -- Plants
Tracheobionta -- Vascular
Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Magnoliophyta – Flowering
Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Aquifoliaceae – Holly family
Ilex L. – holly
Ilex opaca Ait. –
Dendrology at Virginia Tech
U.S. Department of Agriculture