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Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Florida 4-H Forest Ecology


Ilex glabra
Family: Aquifoliaceae

Natural History


Gallberry is a persistent shrub that is commonly found in acidic soil, especially sandy wetlands and swamps. It is frequently the most abundant shrub in flatwood forests of the Lower Coastal Plain. Gallberry is found in most of the southeast, between Florida and Louisiana in the south, to Maine and Nova Scotia in the north. It reproduces abundantly by both seed and sprouting following a disturbance such as fire.

Gallberry leaves can be used to make tea. In landscaping, it is used forfoundation plantings and seaside plantings. The seeds are a source of food for many animals.

Gallberry may be confused with giant gallberry (Ilex coriacea). Giant gallberry grows taller often as single stems and some plants have been up to 27' tall. Giant gallberry has reddish twigs and its leaves are bigger, 1" to 3" long and 1" to 1½" wide, are darker green, and have several, small spines along the margin.

Another identification tip to distinguish giant gallbery from galberry is to look for "spines" on both margins. Gallberry has 3-5 spines, indented & only at the leaf tip. Giant gallberry, (at least on some leaves) has several spines, not indented & down to the leaf base.

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