Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 55 Ilex cassine

Common Names: Dahoon holly Family: Aquifoliaceae (holly Family)
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dahoon holly berries
Dahoon holly holds its showy berries for a good part of the year. They provide a source of food for birds and wildlife during the winter.


Dahoon holly is a small tree that has a narrow growth habit of upward pointing branches that grows to a height of up to 30 ft (9.1 m). It is often found in swamps and other wet locations where it achieves its greatest size. In warm winter areas the dahoon is evergreen but tends to shed its foliage in colder climates. The leaves are simple with smooth edges with just a few small sharp teeth and a sharp bristle at the tip. They are 2-4 in (5-10 cm) long and about 1 in (2.5 cm) wide). The small white flowers are inconspicuous and appear in spring. In the winter, female trees are covered with bright red or yellow berries.


Ilex cassine is native to the eastern United States from Virginia to Florida to Louisiana.


Light: Dahoon is adaptable to most conditions from full sun to deep shade. Moisture: Likes light sandy soil; native of swamps and boggy areas, can adapt to drier situations if watered during dry periods. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 10. Propagation: Propagate by seeds and cuttings. If you have access to established plants suckers and layers (stems that root where they touch the ground), these can be dug and potted up until established for 6-12 months before planting out in the landscape.


This is a wonderful native tree for landscapes that can be used in woodland plantings or in wet areas at the edge of lakes and streams. Tolerates brackish water and low-light conditions so it is perfect as an understory tree especially in swampy areas. Plants can be easily transplanted or suckers dug and transplanted (get the owner's permission first - see Warning below). Within its growing range, the dahoon is becoming increasingly available as more nurseries respond to the ever increasing interest in gardening with native species.

dahoon holly
Jack planted this dahoon holly beside the Catfish Pond, an area that is sometimes flooded sometimes dry. It is sending up suckers and forming a berry-bearing clump from which the local birds happily dine in winter.


If you have a problem wet spot on your property and are wondering what to do with it consider the dahoon holly. Combine with bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) and wet loving relatives like inkberry (Ilex glabra), yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) and winterberry (Ilex verticillata). The dahoon's bright red berries attract hungry birds and other wildlife throughout the winter. They appear in fall just in time to play starring roles in Christmas wreaths and holiday arrangements.


Dahoon holly is listed as commercially exploited species by the Florida Department of Agriculture. It is protected and wild populations should not be disturbed. Check locally to see if dahoon is endangered in your area.

Steve Christman 10/30/12

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Ilex species profiled on Floridata:

Ilex 'Mary Nell'

( Mary Nell holly, Mary Nelle holly )

Ilex cassine

( Dahoon holly )

Ilex crenata

( Japanese holly,box-leaved holly,boxleaf holly )

Ilex decidua

( possumhaw, possum haw )

Ilex glabra

( gallberry, inkberry, bitter gallberry, evergreen winterberry, inkberry holly, Appalachian tea )

Ilex myrtifolia

( myrtleleaf holly, myrtle holly, myrtle dahoon, myrtleleaf dahoon )

Ilex opaca

( American holly )

Ilex verticillata

( common winterberry, black alder, coralberry, Michigan holly )

Ilex vomitoria

( yaupon, yaupon holly )

Ilex x 'Nellie R. Stevens'

( Nellie Stevens holly )

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