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Christmas Holly Ilex aquifolium

Phonetic Spelling
EYE-leks a-kwee-FOH-lee-um
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

English holly is an ornamental. flowering, evergreen tree or tall hedge in the Aquifoliaceae family often found in well-drained soils in scrub, hedges and woodland where it is often the dominant under-storey shrub. The plant is the traditional Christmas holly in Europe. It can be allowed to grow to its full height or pruned and trained as a 10 or 15 foot hedge. The genus name (Ilex) comes from the Latin name Quercus ilex for holm oak in reference to the foliage similarities. The specific epithet (aquifloium) comes from the Latin word acus meaning needle and folium meaning leaf.

It is not frost tender, in leaf all year, in flower in the spring, and the seeds ripen from November to March. The species is dioecious meaning individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if the berries, that provide winter interest, are desired. The plant is pollinated by bees and is not self-fertile. It has glossy green leaves and thorns and is effective as a specimen plant, grouped as a tall hedge or foundation planting. It dislikes high temperatures and high humidity, so use only in protected locations. It also requires protection from cold winter winds. Prune in the winter as needed to maintain shape.  It likes partial shade especially in hot summers and will not tolerate poor drainage. It can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor or very acidic soils.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:

 It can be challenging to grow in the south because it dislikes hot summers and cold winters. 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Aquifodina'
  • 'Argentea'
  • 'Britebush'
  • 'Crinkle Variegated'
  • 'Dapper'
  • 'Ferox Argentena'
  • 'Ivory'
  • 'Marginata'
    Spiny glossy green leaves with showy yellow leaf margins, variegeted, 40 feet high.
  • 'Moonbeam'
  • 'Zelta's Elite'
'Aquifodina', 'Argentea', 'Britebush', 'Crinkle Variegated', 'Dapper', 'Ferox Argentena', 'Ivory', 'Marginata', 'Moonbeam', 'Zelta's Elite'
Tags:
#fragrant#thorns#evergreen#fragrant flowers#specimen#wildlife plant#winter interest#fall interest#air pollution tolerant#showy fruits#hedges#specialized bees#food source wildlife#spines#glossy leaves#foundation planting#pollinator plant#bird friendly#problem for cats#problem for dogs#bee friendly#problem for horses
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Aquifodina'
  • 'Argentea'
  • 'Britebush'
  • 'Crinkle Variegated'
  • 'Dapper'
  • 'Ferox Argentena'
  • 'Ivory'
  • 'Marginata'
    Spiny glossy green leaves with showy yellow leaf margins, variegeted, 40 feet high.
  • 'Moonbeam'
  • 'Zelta's Elite'
'Aquifodina', 'Argentea', 'Britebush', 'Crinkle Variegated', 'Dapper', 'Ferox Argentena', 'Ivory', 'Marginata', 'Moonbeam', 'Zelta's Elite'
Tags:
#fragrant#thorns#evergreen#fragrant flowers#specimen#wildlife plant#winter interest#fall interest#air pollution tolerant#showy fruits#hedges#specialized bees#food source wildlife#spines#glossy leaves#foundation planting#pollinator plant#bird friendly#problem for cats#problem for dogs#bee friendly#problem for horses
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ilex
    Species:
    aquifolium
    Family:
    Aquifoliaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The wood is strong, hard and dense and polishes well, though it must be well dried and seasoned or else it warps badly. It is white, except at the center of very old trees, and is highly regarded by cabinet makers though it must be well seasoned.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Western and Central Europe, northern Africa, western Asia
    Distribution:
    Canada, Pacific Northwest,
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits are attractive to birds. Members of the genus Ilex support the following specialized bee: Colletes banksi.
    Edibility:
    Use caution. Human ingestion of berries can cause minor toxic reaction.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 50 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
    Appendage:
    Spines
    Thorns
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Red, yellow, or orange berries (drupes) 1/4 inch diameter that ripen in fall, persist into winter and are attractive to birds
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Insignificant
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Insignificant greenish-white fragrant flowers. Need to plant male and female plants.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Prickly
    Slippery
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Leaf Margin:
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Dark green 1 to 3 inch alternate, simple, glossy, dark green wavy leaves with spines.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Pollution
    Salt
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Children
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
    Spines/Thorns
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. Leaves and berries are low toxicity and it is only in very large doses that problems are likely to arise. Fruits particularly poisonous to children
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Saponins
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits