Ilex opaca var. arenicola - (Ashe) Ashe
Scrub Holly
Other English Common Names: American Holly
Other Common Names: American holly
Synonym(s): Ilex cumulicola Small
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ilex opaca var. arenicola (Ashe) Ashe (TSN 27984)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.141230
Element Code: PDAQU010R1
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 opaca var. arenicola
Taxonomic Comments: This plant has sometimes been treated as a distinct species (Ilex arenicola, I. cumulicola, or I. pygmaea); Kartesz (1994 checklist) treats it as a variety of the otherwise widespread Ilex opaca.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5T3T4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 02Apr2002
Global Status Last Changed: 04Apr2002
Rounded Global Status: T3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Florida endemic; habitat is diminishing, but more than 100 populations are known with 40 EORs on 13 different managed areas.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3N4

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 Florida (S3S4)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Florida endemic found only in the peninsula highlands; known from Highlands, Marion, Clay, DeSoto, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Polk, Putnam, Seminole, and Volusia Counties, and, reported from Osceola County. Most common towards the southern end of its range.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: 110 EORs as of April 2002.

Population Size Comments: Reportedly never abundant in any one location.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Urbanization and citrus culture continue to replace scrub habitat in Central Florida. Plants of this holly have been removed by landscapers to be planted elsewhere as ornamentals. Cutting of branches for Christmas decorations could be a problem if the plants are near residential areas (FNAI data). The long-term exclusion of fire does not seem to harm mature specimens (Schultz, pers. obs.), and Chasteen (FNAI data - 1982 report on vegetation near Tiger Creek Preserve) suggested that this species may do better as the scrub community gets older.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Florida endemic found only in the peninsula highlands; known from Highlands, Marion, Clay, DeSoto, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Polk, Putnam, Seminole, and Volusia Counties, and, reported from Osceola County. Most common towards the southern end of its range.

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 FL

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Shrub or small tree with dense crown of erect and appressed twigs and branches rarely reaching 6m tall and 20cm DBH.
Technical Description: Shrub or small tree with dense crown of erect and appressed twigs and branches rarely reaching 6m tall and 20cm DBH. Bark pale gray to whitish,smooth. Leaves evergreen, alternate, ascending, numerous; blades cuneate-obovate, 2.5 - 4.5 (6.0)cm long and 1.0 - 2.5 cm wide, yellow-green, lustrous; margins revolute, shallowly sinuate, thickened bearing few to many, forward-directed, spiny teeth. Trees usually unisexual. Flowers in late spring, small, inconspicuous, white; staminate 2 - 9 and pistillate 1 - 3 in a cluster on previous year's wood. Fruit deep red globose drupe, 7 - 10 mm diameter, maturing in late fall, usually persistent through winter. Seeds 4 - 8, pale brown, bony, deeply ribbed on back (Kral, 1983; Kurz, Godrey, 1962; Small, 1933; West, Arnold, 1946; Wunderlin, Poppleton, 1977).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Ilex opaca var. arenicola is distinguished by its rigid ascending branches which form a dense crown; yellow-green, revolute, shiny erect leaves; large, bright red fruit; and white sand scrub habitat (Kurz, Godfrey, 1962; Small, 1924; West, Arnold, 1946).
Reproduction Comments: Ilex opaca var. arenicola can also be propagated by stem cuttings taken from current growth in July or August.
Ecology Comments: Ilex opaca var. arenicola is relatively widespread for a scrub taxon, occurring outside what is usually considered to be the Lake Wales Ridge boundaries. Although rarely abundant in any one place, it does occur as a minor element at most sites having other endemic scrub species. Its populations are declining because of urbanization and citrus culture on the well-drained sands of central Florida (FNAI data).

The plants are unisexual, an individual tree usually having only male or female flowers. For the fertilization of these late spring blossoms and the subsequent setting of fruit, it is necessary for the pollen of male plants to be transported by insects (usually honeybees) to the female plants' flowers. It is important to have at least one staminate tree in an isolated population as the effective pollination range of honeybees does not exceed about two miles (Ilex opaca var opaca pollen has also been shown to be effective for pollination.) (Hume, 1953).

The bright red fruit of the female plants ripen in late summer and persist through the winter. These holly berries are frequently eaten and disseminated by many bird and other animal species (Van Dersal, 1938). The closely related Ilex opaca var. opaca has seed that are known to exhibit a deep double dormancy due to a hard seed coat and an immature embryo that must complete its development after apparent fruit maturity. Germination may commonly be delayed for 16 months in nature and may require up to 3 years for completion (USDA Forest Service, 1974).

Ilex opaca var. arenicola can also be propagated by stem cuttings taken from current growth in July or August. Best results are obtained by using 3-5 inch pieces of terminal twigs in good growth. Male branches of this variety can also be grafted on female trees to insure good fruit set on isolated specimens. Scions can also be successfully grafted on rootstocks of Ilex opaca var. opaca (Hume, 1953).

Van Dersal (1938) characterized Ilex opaca as having a deep and well developed tap root (especially with age), flowering when plants are 5-8 years old, slow growing and somewhat long lived.

Habitat Comments: Ilex opaca var. arenicola is a Florida endemic found only in the peninsula highlands from Marion County south to Highlands Co. and is most common towards the southern end of its range. It grows in the white sand scrub association with Pinus clausa, Ceratiola ericoides, Sabal etonia, the evergreen scrub oaks, etc. It prefers an open canopy where it is exposed to full sunlight most of the day. (Florida Natural Areas Inventory [FNAI] data
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: 1. Preservation of the best populations of Ilex opaca var. arenicola known to exist in Florida.

2. Annually monitor known populations by using field or aerial survey and search for new occurrences.

3. Implement a program of cutting or thinning the overstory over scrub holly where needed at Tiger Creek Preserve.

4. Implement a program of different prescribed burning schedules on a portion of the Ilex population at Tiger Creek Preserve so the effects of fire can be monitored on its growth and reproduction.

Restoration Potential: Unknown. Ilex opaca var. arenicola will regenerate from its roots and new seedlings or larger plants could be fairly easily established after planting on depleted site. Clearcut sites in the Ocala National Forest that have been soil tilled for pine planting have been observed by the author to have hollies resprouting from their root systems and seedlings growing in open areas.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Forty acres should be considered the minimum size for a scrub preserve but a smaller site with an exemplary population of Ilex could be considered (Cooper, FNAI, pers. comm.). The site should have a fairly open canopy to allow good fruit production and plant vigor.
Management Requirements: It is uncertain whether this variety of Ilex opaca needs active management. Although scrub needs to periodically burn, scrub holly seems to do well on sites that have not burned for many years (Schultz - pers. obs. and Chasteen - FNAI report). Perhaps fire would open areas for seedling development. Kral (1983) estimates that this holly would benefit from thinning or cutting the overstory if done properly. He lists prescribe burn, bulldoze or root rake, bed and chop as nonapplicable management techniques that would have no lasting effect. Most of Florida's natural fires occur from June to September when lightning from thunderstorms is most abundant (Abrahamson,1984a). Dr. Ron Myers (ABS, pers. comm. on June 20, 1984) wrote that scrub naturally burned every 20-80 years in a high intensity canopy fire that opens areas for understory species. He recommended managing for the habitat system until more is learned about individual species' requirements. He suggested varying fires both temporally and spatially rather than sticking to one set fire frequency for a particular site, as natural burning occurred whenever sufficient fuel coincided with optimum weather conditions and an ignition source. Dr. Jack Stout (UCF, pers. comm. on July 31, 1984) wrote that he thought scrub historically burned in late spring or during the winter when conditions were most dry. He felt scrub would be hard to burn during the summer rainy season. He advised having many 25 to 100 acre units of scrub at different stages of recovery from fire. This would give a variety of successional stages in which the various scrub plants and animals could populate and reproduce.
Monitoring Requirements: Ilex needs to be monitored where it occurs as its habitat is on the decline due to development. Yearly field surveys of known occurrences should be done to monitor the current status of this species.
Monitoring Programs: The botanist of the FNAI should be contacted for further information. Gary Schultz searched for this species in Polk and Highlands Cos. for the FNAI in August and September, 1983.
Management Research Programs: Abrahamson (1984a) recently published some data on the results of fire on Lake Wales Ridge vegetation. His research at Archbold Biological Station (ABS) found that ridge species' populations are revitalized by fire but do not require fire in the sense of maintaining a fire subclimax. He was unsuccessful in burning sand pine or rosemary scrub in this study. Another article by Abrahamson (1984b) reports on the recovery of dominant species of four major ridge vegetation associations but does not include Ilex opaca var. arenicola. Also at ABS, Johnson (1982) found that Ceratiola scrub (an associated community) can be difficult to burn because Ceratiola itself is not very flammable, and there is little fuel between the shrubs to carry a fire. Apparently, rosemary stands (or at least their centers) experience less frequent fires than the surrounding scrubby flatwoods. She concluded that Ceratiola appears to be adapted to a fire cycle of 30 to 40 years.

Other knowledgeable individuals on scrub and sandhill vegetation include Dr. Jack Stout, Dr. Ron Myers, and Don Richardson. Stout is working on scrub preservation strategies in east-central Florida. Myers is studying the ecological effects of fire on Florida's sand ridges. Richardson is currently a graduate student at USF in Tampa exploring the effects of allelopathy in the Florida scrub. (FNAI is the most informed on occurrences and distribution of rare plant species in Florida.)

Management Research Needs: Research needs to be done on the ideal habitat and management requirements of Ilex opaca var. arenicola. The results of different prescribed burning schedules needs to be monitored.
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: 17Feb1986
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Schultz, G. (1986), Cooper, S.T. (1988), rev. D. White (1991)
Management Information Edition Date: 17Feb1986
Management Information Edition Author: Gary Schultz
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): GARY SCHULTZ

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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  • Abrahamson, W.G. 1984a. Post-fire recovery of Florida Lake Wales Ridge vegetation. American J. Botany 71(1): 9-21.

  • Abrahamson, W.G. 1984b. Species response to fire on the Florida Lake Wales Ridge. American J. Botany 71(1): 35-43.

  • Hume, H. H. 1953. Hollies. MacMillan Company. N.Y.

  • Johnson, P. N. 1982. Naturalised plants in southwest South Island, New Zealand. N.Z. J Botany 20: 131-142.

  • 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.

  • Kral, R. 1983c. A report on some rare, threatened, or endangered forest-related vascular plants of the South. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service Technical Publication R8-TP2, Athens, GA. 1305 pp.

  • Kurz, H., and R.K. Godfrey. 1962. Trees of northern Florida. Univ. Florida Press, Gainesville. 311 pp.

  • Prance, G.T., ed. 1977. Extinction is forever. New York Botanical Garden, New York.

  • Small, J.K. 1924. Plant novelties from Florida. Bull. Torrey Botanical Club 51: 379-393.

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

  • U.S. Forest Service (USFS). 1974. Seeds of Woody Plants in the United States. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Agricultural Handbook #450.

  • USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, PLANTS Database [USDA PLANTS]. http://plants.usda.gov/. Accessed 2015.

  • Van Dersal, W. R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States: their erosion-control and wildlife values. USDA Misc. Publ. 303.

  • West, E. and L. E. Arnold. 1946. The native trees of Florida. p. 12 University of Florida Press, Gainesville.

  • Wunderlin, R. P., and J. E. Poppleton. 1977. The Florida species of Ilex (Aquifoliaceae). Fl. Scientist 40(1): 7-21.

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