What is a Mountain Holly?

Misty Amber Brighton

Mountain holly is a deciduous shrub that is native to North America. It has dark green leaves, light-colored flowers, and red fruit that somewhat resembles a cherry. This fruit has a seed which can be planted to grow new specimens. It is primarily a wild species but can also be cultivated in a backyard garden to attract wildlife and birds.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

The leaves of a mountain holly are somewhat oblong with a pointed end. The edges of these leaves are usually serrated, which means they look something like a saw blade. They are typically approximately two to three inches (5.08 to 7.62 cm) long.

The flowers of this shrub can be white, cream, or a pale green color. They are usually around an inch (2.54 cm) in diameter. There are normally five petals to each flower, each with a tiny center that is slightly darker than the blossom itself. These can appear in early spring and may last until sometime in early summer.

The fruit of a mountain holly bush is typically around 1/4 to 1/2-inch (.64 to 1.2 cm) in diameter. It normally grows in groups of eight to ten berries. They are normally located in the center of two or three leaves. This fruit may appear in late summer or early fall, but typically falls off the tree when the leaves are shed.

The bush itself can grow to be eight to ten feet (2.44 to 3.05 m) high. It can also be anywhere from four to six feet (12.2 to 18.3 m) wide. It can easily be pruned to a height of three to four feet (9.15 to 12.2 m).

This plant does well in full sunlight, but can also grow in partially shaded areas. It can usually tolerate a variety of soil types without needing to be fertilized. It is generally hardy and able to withstand temperatures as low as -20°F(-29°C). It needs to be watered once or twice a week if there is no rainfall. This bush does not normally do well in drought-like conditions or areas that retain a lot of moisture.

Mountain holly is a wild specimen that can need lots of maintenance to keep it from overtaking other flowers or bushes in a backyard garden. People who grow this shrub should prune it and remove weeds from the area often. Individuals who do so may be rewarded with a colorful plant that can provide shelter for small birds and mammals.

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