Herbs & Plants

Ilex cassine

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Botanical Name :Ilex cassine
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Genus: Ilex
Species: I. cassine
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Aquifoliales

Synonyms :     Ilex  caroliniana

Common Names:Dahoon Holly,Dahnoon,Cassena

Habitat :Ilex cassine is  native to the southeastern coast of North America, in the United States from Virginia to southeast Texas, in Mexico in Veracruz, and in the Caribbean on the Bahamas, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.
It grows on cold swamps and on their borders in rich moist soils. Occasionally also found on high sandy banks of pine barren streams.

Dahoon holly is a small dioecious tree that has a narrow growth habit of upward pointing branches that grows to a height of up to 30 ft (9.1 m). It is often found in swamps and other wet locations where it achieves its greatest size. In warm winter areas the dahoon is evergreen but tends to shed its foliage in colder climates. The leaves are simple with smooth edges with just a few small sharp teeth and a sharp bristle at the tip. They are 2-4 in (5-10 cm) long and about 1 in (2.5 cm) wide).


As with other hollies, it is dioecious with separate male and female plants. Only the females have berries, and a male pollenizer must be within range for bees to pollinate them.The small white flowers are inconsicuous and appear in spring. In the winter, female trees are covered with bright red or yellow berries.

There are three varieties:
*Ilex cassine var. cassine. United States, Caribbean.
*Ilex cassine var. angustifolia Aiton. United States.
*Ilex cassine var. mexicana (Turcz.) Loes. Mexico.

Cultivation :
Tolerates most soils that are not water-logged. A slow-growing and generally short-lived species in the wild. Resents root disturbance, especially as the plants get older. It is best to place the plants into their permanent positions as soon as possible, perhaps giving some winter protection for their first year or two[K]. Flowers are produced on the current year’s growth. Plants are very tolerant of pruning and can be cut right back into old wood if required. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. It can take 18 months to germinate. Stored seed generally requires two winters and a summer before it will germinate and should be sown as soon as possible in a cold frame. Scarification, followed by a warm stratification and then a cold stratification may speed up the germination time. The seedlings are rather slow-growing. Pot them up into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame for their first year. It is possible to plant them out into a nursery bed in late spring of the following year, but they should not be left here for more than two years since they do not like being transplanted. Alternatively, grow them on in their pots for a second season and then plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Give them a good mulch and some protection for their first winter outdoors. Cuttings of almost ripe wood with a heel, August in a shaded position in a cold frame. Leave for 12 months before potting up. Layering in October. Takes 2 years.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Tea.

The dried roasted leaves can be used as a tea substitute. Some caution is advised since it can cause dizziness and have a laxative effect

Medicinal Uses:
Emetic;  Hypnotic;  Laxative.

The leaves are hypnotic and laxative. A strong decoction of the plant was used by some native North American Indian tribes to induce vomiting. This was seen partly as a physical and partly a spiritual cleansing

Other Uses:
Soap;  Wood.
The plant has been used as a soap. No more information is given. Wood – soft, light, close-grained, not strong. It weighs 30lb per cubic foot. Of no commercial importance

This is a wonderful native tree for landscapes that can be used in woodland plantings or in wet areas at the edge of lakes and streams. Tolerates brackish water and low-light conditions so it is perfect as an understory tree especially in swampy areas. Plants can be easily transplanted or suckers dug and transplanted . Within its growing range, the dahoon is becoming increasingly available as more nurseries respond to the ever increasing interest in gardening with native species.

Known Hazards  :  Although no specific reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, the fruits of at least some members of this genus contain saponins and are slightly toxic. They can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and stupor if eaten in quantity

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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