Ilex ambigua - (Michx.) Torr.
Carolina Holly
Other Common Names: Carolina holly
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ilex ambigua (Michx.) Torr. (TSN 27987)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.158416
Element Code: PDAQU01010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Holly Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Celastrales Aquifoliaceae Ilex
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Ilex ambigua
Taxonomic Comments: As treated here (following Kartesz, 1994 checklist), includes the Appalachian plants sometimes called Ilex beadlei (or Ilex montana var. beadlei), but excludes the more northern plants treated by Kartesz as Ilex montana, but appearing in some literature as Ilex ambigua var. montana or I. ambigua var. monticola. Ilex ambigua has sometimes been treated in the past as Ilex montana var. mollis.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 17Jul1992
Global Status Last Changed: 17Jul1992
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Very common in southern coastal plain and Gulf states (G. Krakow, pers. comm.)
Nation: United States
National Status: N5

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNR), Arkansas (SNR), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S4?), Kentucky (S4), Louisiana (SNR), Mississippi (S5), North Carolina (S3), Oklahoma (S1), South Carolina (SNR), Tennessee (SNR), Texas (SNR), Virginia (SNR), West Virginia (S3)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Deciduous shrub or small tree with alternate, finely toothed leaves, and red berries in the leaf axils of pistillate plants.
Technical Description: Small to large shrub or small tree, branches glabrous, twigs purple, glabrous. Leaves deciduous, obovate to elliptic or suborbicular, 3-7 cm long, abruptly contracted to short acuminate or acute apices, with wide-cuneate bases, serrulate or crenate-serrulate, at least above the middle; petioles at least 1 cm long, fascicled, usually on spur shoots. Pistillate flowers axillary, solitary, usually on short spur growths. Flowers 4-merous. Drupe red, translucent, globose, 5-7 mm in diam.; pyrenes 4, with fairly deep furrows on the back. (from Radford et al. 1968 and Small 1933)
Diagnostic Characteristics: Distinguished from I. decidua by leaf shape: I. decidua has leaves that tend to be widest above the middle, with narrowly cuneate bases, whereas I. ambigua has leaves that are widest near the middle, with broadly cuneate bases. Distinguishing this species from I. montana is more complicated; they have often been merged. (I montana has also been known as I. ambigua var. monticola or I. monticola. "Ilex beadlei", found in the southern Appalachians, is classified by Kartesz (1994 checklist) as part of I. ambigua, but has also been included in I. montana as var. mollis or var. beadlei.) I. ambigua and I. montana are best differentiated by leaf and fruit size. I. ambigua has generally smaller leaves (3-7 cm long) and fruits (6-7 mm in diameter) than I. montana (leaves up to 18 cm long, fruits up to 1 cm in diameter). Also, I. ambigua's leaves tend to be wider in proportion to their length (I. montana's usually more than twice as long as wide, I. ambigua's commonly less). The ranges are largely different, as well. "I. beadlei", found in the southern Appalachians, has the leaves densely pubescent beneath. (Radford et al. 1968, Fernald 1950, Gleason 1952, Small 1933, Wunderlin 1982)
Duration: PERENNIAL, Long-lived, DECIDUOUS
Reproduction Comments: Sexual reproduction occurs in the Florida panhandle in May (Clewell 1985).
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest/Woodland, Sand/dune, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Sandhills, scrub, dunes, dry hammocks (Clewell 1985).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 19Oct1992
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Russell, C.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 01Feb1995
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): A. WILDMAN, M.E. STOVER, TNC-HO

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Clewell, A.F. 1985. Guide to vascular plants of the Florida panhandle. Florida State Univ. Press, Tallahassee, Florida. 605 pp.

  • Fernald, M. L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. Corrected printing (1970). D. Van Nostrand Company, New York. 1632 pp.

  • Gleason, H.A. 1952. The new Britton and Brown illustrated flora of the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 3 volumes. Hafner Press, New York. 1732 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Little, E.L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agriculture Handbook No. 541. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 375 pp.

  • Moye, William S. 2006. Highly Ranked Plants of the South Mountain Region. Unpublished notes sent via email to Misty Franklin in February 2006.

  • Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles, and C.R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Univ. North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 1183 pp.

  • Small, J.K. 1933. Manual of the southeastern flora. Two volumes. Hafner Publishing Company, New York.

  • Wunderlin, R.P. 1982. Guide to the vascular plants of central Florida. Univ. Presses Florida, Gainesville. 472 pp.

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