Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Longstalk Holly - Ilex collina   Alexander
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Section 6 » Order Celastrales » Family Aquifoliaceae
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DistributionOnly in the higher elevations of the Mountains, over 4000 feet. Ranges south to Swain County, with five counties known in the state.

This is a very localized species with a small range in the southern Appalachians. It ranges north only to eastern WV and south to western NC and eastern TN. A report from northern GA might be in error.
AbundanceVery rare and local; one of the scarcest shrubs in the state. Nearly all individuals are known from two sites in northern Watauga County, though several large colonies (a few hundred shrubs each) are known at these two sites. This is a State Special Concern species.
HabitatThis rare species has an equally rare habitat – high elevation peaty, wet ground around bog margins, seepages, and other places where there is generally standing water at cool or cold micro-climate sites.
PhenologyBlooms in May and June, and fruits mostly in September and October.
IdentificationThis is a deciduous shrub that grows to an average height of 8-10 feet tall. It looks quite a bit like the much more common I. ambigua and I. verticillata, in that the alternate leaves are ovate to elliptic, finely serrated, and have an acuminate tip, growing to about 3 inches long. It must be identified by the long petioles (“stalks”) to the fruits; these are around 1/2-1-inch long and are easily seen in summer, well before the fruits are fully ripened in fall. The other similar shrubs have fruiting stalks less than 1/3-inch long (i.e., less than 10 mm). Few people are likely to come across this species in NC unless they visit known sites, as high elevation boggy, peaty sites are limited, and most such sites have probably been surveyed for this species.
Taxonomic CommentsThere has been confusion about this species in the past. It was not included in RAB (1968), either owing to not yet having been found in NC at that time, but also to confusion of this species with the formerly named Nemopanthus mucronatus, which is now named as Ilex mucronata. That species is similar, but occurs south only to MD and WV and has somewhat different characters. Ilex collina was formerly known as Nemopanthus collinus, as well.

Other Common Name(s)Other names are variations on the most prevalent name, such as Long-stalked Holly.
State RankS1
Global RankG3
State StatusSC-V
US Status
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