Common Name(s): Cape Holly, African Holly
Scientific Name: Ilex mitis
Tree Size: 50-65 ft (15-20 m) tall, 1-2 ft (.3-.6 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 40 lbs/ft3 (640 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .48, .64
Janka Hardness: 1,100 lbf (4,870 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 10,930 lbf/in2 (75.4 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,313,000 lbf/in2 (9.06 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 6,020 lbf/in2 (41.5 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 4.9%, Tangential: 10.5%, Volumetric: 16.0%, T/R Ratio: 2.1
Color/Appearance: Ideal lumber has a very uniform, pale white color with virtually no visible grain pattern. Knots are common, which can reduce the usable area of the wood. Can develop a bluish/gray fungal stain if not dried rapidly after cutting. Holly is usually cut during the winter and kiln dried shortly thereafter to preserve the white color of the wood.
Grain/Texture: Grain is interlocked and irregular. Medium to fine uniform texture with moderate natural luster.
Endgrain: Diffuse-porous or semi-ring-porous; small to medium pores predominantly in radial multiples of 2-4, commonly arranged in radial rows, moderately numerous to numerous; growth rings may be distinct due to an intermittent row of earlywood pores; rays in variable sizes from narrow to very wide, normal to fairly close spacing; parenchyma not typically visible with lens.
Rot Resistance: Rated as non-durable or perishable, and susceptible to insect attack.
Workability: Can be difficult to work on account of the numerous knots and interlocked grain. Glues, stains, and finishes well, and is sometimes stained black as a substitute for Ebony. Turns well on the lathe.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Besides the standard health risks associated with any type of wood dust, no further health reactions have been associated with Holly. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Seldom available for commercial sale, Holly is an expensive domestic lumber, and is usually only available in small quantities and sizes.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Inlays, furniture, piano keys (dyed black), broom and brush handles, turned objects, and other small novelty items.
Comments: Holly is typically used only for ornamental and decorative purposes. It has a fairly large shrinkage rate, with a lot of seasonal movement in service, and its strength properties are mediocre for a hardwood.
Scans/Pictures: The sample below shows the typical blue/gray fungal staining that can occur when the wood is not dried fast enough.