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Plant A Patch: Possum-haw holly (Ilex decidua)

By: Sandra Nelson; Images Sandy DeFoe


A relation to last week’s selection, Possum-haw holly is a native, deciduous shrub especially known for its bright red berries throughout the fall and winter seasons. Like its evergreen relative, Possum haw holly prefers a full sun location, but will tolerate partial shade. It does well in moist but well drained locations so can be an effective rain garden plant. The berries are favorites of birds, deer and small mammals (opossums ) but are usually not consumed until late winter when other food is scarce. Since the variety is dioecious, both a male and a female plant must be present for berry production. Beautiful in mass, the shrubs can be pruned in the early spring to control growth.