37b Holly Jpg
Woodward Hill Cemetery, 508 S. Queen Street, Lancaster PA (behind the burial site of President James Buchanan)

Scott Wade

This tree is tied for third largest Amer- ican Holly in Pennsylvania, with a trunk circumference in 2008 of 84 inches and a height of 47 feet (pabigtrees.com).  

While of course varying from site to site, a holly’s trunk circumference has been reported to grow about 1.25 cm per year.  This tree’s trunk was 213 cm in 2008 (i.e., 84 inches x 2.54). Using the above yardstick, its age calculates to about 182 years in 2020 (213/1.25 + 12).  Even if that estimate is high by 40 or 50 years, this tree compares im- pressively with the average longevity of Ilex opaca, which is thought to be about 100 years.

Woodward Hill Cemetery was esta- blished in 1852 as an open space for recreation as well as veneration of the dead, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  If the holly was planted during the cemetery’s earliest years, it would be about 160-170 years old in 2020.

This amazing species bears berries that are poisonous to humans but provide late-winter survival food for robins and cedar waxwings whose migrating flocks strip the tree of fruit.


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