Possum Haw Holly, Possumhaw, Deciduous Holly 'Council Fire'

Ilex decidua

Family: Aquifoliaceae (a-kwee-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ilex (EYE-leks) (Info)
Species: decidua (dee-SID-yoo-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Council Fire
Hybridized by J. Bon Hartline
Registered or introduced: 1978
Synonym:Ilex curtissii
Synonym:Ilex decidua var. curtissii



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer


Grown for foliage


Provides winter interest

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

4.5 or below (very acidic)

4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)

5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Clermont, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Gardeners' Notes:


On Feb 8, 2010, Gardennovice1a from London
United Kingdom wrote:

Hi there, do you have experience of cutting a Possumhaw right back, so that only 10inch branch stumps remain? Would a Possumhaw eventually sprout from these branch stumps, and would this happen in the first Spring after pruning?


On Jan 21, 2007, ViburnumValley from Scott County, KY (Zone 5b) wrote:

'Council Fire' possumhaw is another great deciduous holly selected in the Ohio River valley region populated by the exceptional members of the Great Rivers Chapter of the Holly Society of America.

Bon Hartline (Hartline Nursery, Anna IL) selected 'Council Fire' for its bushy upright oval-rounded habit and perennially persistent bright red fruit. The gray stems are great alone, but make a fine foil for the fruit.

This plant can be a big multistemmed shrub, evolving into a colony of stems, but is quite striking as a single trunk small tree. American holly males (Ilex opaca) as well as Ilex decidua males will serve as pollinators. Plant possumhaw where it will get above average moisture, like near a downspout, along a drainage swale, or near ponds and streams.