Possumhaw

Ilex decidua

Possumhaw (Ilex decidua)

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua 
(EYE-leks dee-SID-yoo-uh)

Deciduous Yaupon, Deciduous Holly, Meadow Holly, Prairie Holly, Welk Holly, Bearberry, Winterberry

Family
Aquifoliaceae

Description
This ornamental Texas Superstar is a native, deciduous shrub or small tree prized for its showy fruit

Plant habit
Medium shrub to small tree with an irregular, spreading and open crown

Landscape use
Plant as a specimen tree, or group for visual impact (fall berries).  Ideal planted along edges of woodlands or naturalized borders, low maintenance

Average mature size
15’ tall x 10’ wide (species can vary widely)

Growth rate
Moderate

Sun exposure
Sun to part sun/shade.  Fruits best with at least six hours of sun

Soil requirements
Adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions

Water requirements
Low; drought tolerant once established, easy to grow in any soil, even with poor drainage

Heat tolerance
Moderate

Foliage
Deciduous, at first frost the leaves yellow and drop

Flowers
Dioecious: flowers on separate male and female plants

Blooming period
Spring

Fruit characteristics
Fruits only on female plant (look for plants with berries at the nursery).  Plant male species to ensure pollination (1 male: 9 female).  Red-orange drupes persist through winter (color depends on variety), providing visual interest; wildlife food source

Bark
Attractive, scaly

Pests and disease
None serious

Other
Earth Kind plant: tolerates infrequent watering, poor soils, and is relatively pest and disease free.  This plant gets its name due to its confusion with hawthorn and its attraction to possums.

“If I had my way, I’d want every gardener in the south to enjoy the winter beauty of Possumhaw.” – Sally Waskowski, Gardening With Native Plants of the South.