Possumhaw Holly, Ilex decidua, is another tree with a most unfortunate name. The name Possumhaw puts this lovely tree a preconceived bad light before it is ever given a chance. Despite a name that equates it with roadkill, Possumhaw is a truly wonderful small tree. The species name decidua tells us this is a deciduous holly. Spring brings a dark green semi-glossy thornless foliage that is soon followed by an abundance of small inconspicuous blooms that are relished by honeybees and other pollinators. Summer remains green. Fall starts the show with golden fall leaves mixed with orange or red holly berries. The berries persist through the winter giving a delightful show against a snowy background.
As winter progresses the winter birds will gradually eat the berries creating a show of their own. In the wild where it must compete for sunlight, Possumhaw can reach 30′ tall but in a landscape where it gets plenty of sunlight it will stay closer to 15′ tall. More sunlight will equal more flowers which will mean many more beautiful red berries in winter.
It is hardy in zones 5 through 9 and prefers a more upland site that Winterberry Hollies