Good Food and Cover

Mountain (Largeleaf) Holly – Ilex montana
Long-stalked Holly – I. Collina
Mountain-Holly – Nemopanthus mucronata


Mountain Holly-Tall shrub or small tree,usually to 10 to 20 feet tall, open, wide spreading top branches.
Long-stalked-Shrub to 15 feet tall, usually round-topped clumps if open grown, erect.
Mountain-Holly-Shrub to 10 feet tall, usually round-topped clumps, erect.

Twigs and Bark

Mountain Holly-Twigs green to reddish, smooth. Bark smooth gray. Numerous short stubby branches that are 1 to 2 inches long.
Long-stalked-Slender twigs are gray to greenish.
Mountain-Holly-Twigs are very small, smooth, gray.


In general, deciduous, alternate and simple.
Mountain Holly- Elliptic with a very long pointed tip; thin delicate texture; 2 to 4 inches long with small sharp teeth on the margin; some leaves clustered on the short stubby branches; turns yellow in autumn.
Mountain-Holly- Elliptic with bristle tip; entire or bearing a few widely spaced fine teeth on the margin; ½ to 2 inches long; whitish green cast, turns yellowish in autumn.


Mountain and Long-stalked Holly- Small, inconspicuous, whitish-green flowers.
Mountain-Holly- Small, yellowish on long stalks, singly or in small clusters.


Mountain Holly- Bright red, on short stalks less than ½ inch long.
Long-stalked- Bright red, on long stalks (usually about 1 inch long).
Mountain-Holly- Dull red, on long stalks (usually about 1 inch long).

West Virginia Range

Mountain Holly- Mountain counties of Fayette, Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Mercer, Monongalia, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston , Raleigh , Randolph , Summers, Tucker, and Webster.
Long-stalked- Very restricted range from Nicholas, Pocahontas, Randolph and Webster.
Mountain-Holly- High elevations in Grant, Mineral, Pendleton, Preston , Randolph and Tucker.

Natural Habitat

Mountain Holly- Moist woods.
Long-stalked- Glades, swamps, wet open woods and open riverbanks.
Mountain-Holly- Around cold sphagnum bogs, more rarely in damp, cool woods.

Wildlife Uses

Numerous species of birds feed on the fruits of deciduous hollies. Turkeys , pileated woodpecker, bluebird, catbird, mockingbird, robin, sapsucker, hermit thrush, olive-backed thrush and brown thrasher have been observed to be heavy feeders on the fruits. Bears, raccoons, skunks, squirrels and white-footed mice are mammalian species that eat the fruits. Deer browse foliage and twigs.


The deciduous hollies have been used sparingly as ornamentals compared to the more popular and showy evergreen species newer hybrids; nonetheless they are generally adaptable to cultivations especially in moist, acid soils that are partially shaded. Small plants are easily transplanted during the dormant season. Greenwood cutting are in easier propagative procedure than attempting to grow plants form seeds which are very slow to germinate even with special treatment. This is because hollies produce seeds with very immature embryos. By selecting cuttings from shrubs of known sex a desired balance between fruit-producing and pollinator plants can be established (one staminate/pollen plant for each 4 to 8 nearby pistillate/fruiting plants).

Uses: Small groups, hedges, borders or screens.

Light: Partial shade or full sunlight.

Soil Moisture:
Mountain Holly- Moist well-drained soils.
Long-stalked-Moist to wet.
Mountain-Holly- Wet.

Soil pH: Acid to slightly acid.

Problems: Trouble free.

Compiled by: Robert Deal, nurseryman and professor of biology/botany at Glenville State College, Glenville , West Virginia .Written by West Virginia Native Plant Society members and jointly published with the WV Wildlife Diversity Program.