Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Large Gallberry - Ilex coriacea   (Pursh) Chapman
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Section 6 » Order Celastrales » Family Aquifoliaceae
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Author(Pursh) Chapman
DistributionThroughout the Coastal Plain. However, it is scarce to absent in several northwestern Coastal Plain counties, such as most of those bordering the Roanoke River and also a few in the northeastern corner of the state. Extremely rare in the adjacent Piedmont, with a record for Randolph County perhaps being the only one for that province.

Almost strictly a Coastal Plain species, ranging north to DE and southeastern VA south to central FL and west to eastern TX.
AbundanceCommon to abundant in the southern and central Coastal Plain, but much less common in the northern third, being mostly uncommon there. Extremely rare in the southeastern Piedmont.
HabitatThis is one of the classic pocosin species, found only in strongly acidic wetlands associated with pine stands, especially with Pond Pine (Pinus serotina). It is a dominant species in sandhill seepage pocosins, as well as in in Pond Pine Pocosins, blackwater river swamps, and various bay forests. It can also occur in the middle of peat-based Carolina bays far from tree cover.
See also Habitat Account for Coastal Plain Wet Acidic Shrublands
PhenologyBlooms in April and May, and fruits ripen in September and October.
IdentificationThis is a large, evergreen shrub growing to about 10-12 feet tall, and equally as broad. The very thick and leathery dark green leaves are alternate, elliptic to obovate, and have smooth margins except toward the outer end, where there are scattered sharp teeth that are not paired (with a similar tooth on the other side of the leaf). Leaves average about 2 inches long. In addition, the branches are usually upwardly (virgate) branching, as opposed to more horizontally spreading from the trunk and larger branches. The somewhat similar Ilex glabra often grows with it, but the other species has narrower and more wedge-shaped leaves, has paired teeth (each tooth has a similar tooth on the opposite side of the leaf), has more spreading branches, and is a shorter shrub. Both have abundant black “berries” in fall into the winter. This species is usually encountered daily when you are in the Sandhills or in the eastern Coastal Plain bays and pocosin region, and thus you should have plenty of practice separating it from the smaller but more widespread I. glabra.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Big Gallberry, Baygall Bush
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieSandhills Game Land, floodplain of Drowning Creek, E of US 15-501, early May 2008. ScotlandPhoto_natural

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