Common Name(s): Holly, American Holly

Scientific Name: Ilex opaca

Distribution: Eastern United States

holly 600 x 600.jpg

Color/Appearance: Ideal lumber has a very uniform, pale white color with virtually no visible grain pattern. Knots are common, which can reduce the usable area of the wood. Can develop a bluish/gray fungal stain if not dried rapidly after cutting. Holly is usually cut during the winter and kiln dried shortly thereafter to preserve the white color of the wood.

Grain/Texture: Grain is interlocked and irregular. Medium to fine uniform texture with moderate natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous or semi-ring-porous; very small pores predominantly in radial multiples of 2-4, commonly arranged in radial rows; growth rings may be distinct due to an intermittent row of earlywood pores; rays visible without lens; parenchyma not typically visible with lens.

Workability: Can be difficult to work on account of the numerous knots and interlocked grain. Glues, stains, and finishes well, and is sometimes stained black as a substitute for Ebony. Turns well on the lathe.

Pricing/Availability: Seldom available for commercial sale, Holly is an expensive domestic lumber, and is usually only available in small quantities and sizes.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Inlays, furniture, piano keys (dyed black), broom and brush handles, turned objects, and other small novelty items.

Comments: Holly is typically used only for ornamental and decorative purposes. It has a fairly large shrinkage rate, with a lot of seasonal movement in service, and its strength properties are mediocre for a hardwood.