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Ilex ambigua (Michaux) Torrey. Section: Prinoides. Carolina Holly. Phen: Apr-Jun; Aug-Sep. Hab: Sandy upland forests, dry slope forests, rarely in pocosin ecotones in the fall-line sandhills region. Dist: Ne. NC, se. TN, n. AR, and se. OK south to c. peninsular FL, s. MS, and se. TX; disjunct in the Sierra Madre Oriental and Chiapas, Mexico.

Origin/Endemic status: Endemic

Taxonomy Comments: The various taxa that have been distinguished in this complex may have some merit, though a detailed study by Krakow (1989) did not clearly support their recognition. Ilex buswellii Small, strictly of xeric habitats (longleaf pine sandhills, Florida scrub) of the Coastal Plain from se. NC southward, has the larger leaves on the plant 2-3.5 (-4) cm long and 0.7-1.7 (-2.5) cm wide. Ilex ambigua (sensu stricto) is distributed in the Coastal Plain, Piedmont and low Mountains, and has the larger leaves on a plant 3-9 (-10.5) cm long and 1.7-6 cm wide. Ilex beadlei of the low Mountains and Piedmont has the larger leaves on a plant 7-9 (-10.5) cm long and 2-6 cm wide.

Synonymy: = Ar, Fl7, K3, K4, Ok, Clark (2023), Krakow (1989); = Ilex ambigua (Michx.) Torr. var. ambigua – RAB, Tn, W, Godfrey (1988); > Ilex ambigua (Michx.) Torr. – S, S13, Tx; > Ilex ambigua (Michx.) Torr. var. ambigua – WH3; >< Ilex ambigua (Michx.) Torr. var. monticola (A.Gray) Wunderlin & Poppleton – WH3, Godfrey (1988), misapplied; > Ilex beadlei Ashe – Pa, S, S13; > Ilex beadlei Ashe var. beadlei; > Ilex beadlei Ashe var. laevis Ashe; > Ilex buswellii Small – S; > Ilex caroliniana Trel. ex Small – S13; > Ilex mollis A.Gray; >< Ilex montana Torr. & A.Gray ex A.Gray, misapplied; > Ilex montana Torr. & A.Gray ex A.Gray var. beadlei (Ashe) Fernald – G; > Ilex montana Torr. & A.Gray ex A.Gray var. mollis (A.Gray) Britton – C, F, Tx

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Wetland Indicator Status:

  • Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain: FAC (name change)
  • Eastern Mountains and Piedmont: FACU (taxonomic split from wetland indicator species)
  • Northcentral & Northeast: FACU (taxonomic split from wetland indicator species)

Heliophily ?: 5

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