Distinguishing features of this species are crenate leaf margins and fruiting pedicels that are 2–8 mm long. Its "distinctive leaf shape... is less variable than other species of holly". Leaves are obovate, simple, alternating, deciduous, and grow to 2.5-7.5 cm long.
Distribution and ecology
Ilex decidua is a common plant, growing in the US in Alabama, Arkansas, Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
It prefers land in floodplains and the margins of swamps or lakes, and grows at elevations up to about 360 m. Other plant species with which possumhaw is associated include water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica), overcup oak (Quercus lyrata), bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and hackberry (Celtis spp.).
Because of the attractive "berries", the tree is used as a winter ornamental plant, and branches are collected for use as Christmas decorations. The wood is not useful commercially because of the tree's small size.
- Duncan, Wilbur H. and Marion B. Duncan (1988). Trees of the Southeastern United States. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Press. pp. 304–305. ISBN 0-8203-1469-2.
- Brown, Claud L.; L. Katherine Kirkman (1990). Trees of Georgia and Adjacent States. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press. pp. 178–179. ISBN 0-88192-148-3.
- "NPIN: Ilex decidua (Possumhaw)". http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ILDE. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
- "PLANTS Profile for Ilex decidua (possumhaw)". Natural Resources Conservation Service. United States Department of Agriculture. http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ILDE. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
- "Ilex decidua information from NPGS/GRIN". Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program, National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?19700. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
- "FDEP Featured Plant: Florida Hollies". Florida Department of Environmental Protection. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wetlands/delineation/featuredplants/ilex.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-14.