Botanical Name

Ilex Opaca

Other Common Names

American Holly, Christmas Holly, Evergreen Holly, Prickly Holly, Yule Holly.


Eastern United States


At maturity, Holly trees reach a height of 35 to 50 feet and a width of 15 to 25 feet. This pyramidal tree features dense foliage and grows less than 12 inches annually, Making it a slow-growing tree. Holly trees feature simple alternate leaves that are oval in shape and which feature points along the edges. These evergreen leaves are 2 to 4 inches long and less than 2 inches wide.


Holly is perhaps the whitest known wood in the world. The heartwood ranges white to gray-white, Also, Holly can develop a bluish/gray tint if it isn’t dried rapidly after cutting. Holly is usually cut during the winter and kiln dried shortly thereafter to preserve the white color of the wood.


Has a fine, even texture and close grain. On most pieces of Holly, there is virtually no visible grain pattern or growth rings. This heavy dense wood is tough in all strength categories, but is not suitable for steam bending. Holly is non-durable or perishable and is susceptible to insect attack.

Working Properties

Holly has a high resistance to cutting and sawing and a moderate blunting effect on tools, keep tools sharp especially with irregular grain. Wood turns well, requires pre-boring for screwing and nailing, glues easily, and can be brought to an excellent, smooth finish.


Specialty items such as fancy cabinet inlays, novelties, wood engravings, scroll work, woodcuts and carvings, and measuring scales and rules for scientific instruments; when dyed black to resemble ebony, it is used for piano keys, violin pegs, and fingerboards.


Limited and rare. Can only be harvested in the cold of the winter.