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Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii'

Phonetic Spelling
EYE-leks kor-NOO-tuh
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Burford Chinese Holly is a cultivar of the Ilex cornuta holly and is a dense evergreen shrub or small tree. It can grow to a height of 15 to 25 feet tall and 8 to 15 feet wide. The leaves are glossy, dark green, and leathery, and usually have a single terminal spine. Of the hollies, their leaves are the darkest green and the glossiest. In the spring, small white flowers emerge and are very attractive to bees. The flowers are not very showy but pleasantly scented. The abundant red berries ripen in the fall and persist through the winter months. 

The plant is dioecious, which means that the individual flowers are either male or female. There is only one sex found on any one plant; therefore, both male and female plants must be grown, if seed is required. Burford Chinese Holly also produces its heavy fruit set without pollination, which is referred to as "parthenocarpy."

In 1900, the cultivar, 'Burfordii', was discovered in Georgia and has the characteristic drought and heat tolerance of its parent.

The Burford Chinese Holly grows best in rich, well-drained, and slightly acidic soils. It is tolerant of most soils except poorly-drained ones and can be grown in full to partial sun. If planted in shady areas, fruit and flower production is significantly reduced. It is dense and tolerates severe pruning. It can be trimmed to form a rounded large shrub, a small tree, or a hedge. Pruning should be done in late winter. It is drought tolerant once established, low maintenance, and easy to grow. 

Ilex cornuta 'Dwarf Burford' or 'Burfordii Nana' is very similar to 'Burfordii', except it grows much shorter. It measures only 6-8 feet tall, has smaller leaves that are about 2 inches long, and sports darker foliage.

The fruit and evergreen leaves make for winter interest in the home landscape. The spiny leaves make this a good choice for a barrier or privacy screen or use as a formal impenetrable hedge. It may be planted as a specimen, used in small groups, or planted along a foundation. The Burford Chinese Holly can also be pruned to form an attractive vase-shaped small tree. 

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom:  Spring     Foliage:  Year-round       Fruits:  Fall and Winter

Quick ID Hints:

  • dense rounded evergreen shrub or small tree
  • dark green, glossy, leathery, 2 to 4-inch leaves with entire margins except for a single terminal spine at the apex
  • may have occasionally 2 lateral spines on the leaf edges
  • small, fragrant, white flowers in the spring
  • abundant small, round, dull to bright red berries in the fall that persist through the winter

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Burford Chinese Holly can have pest problems including leaf miners, scale, whiteflies, and spider mites. The infestations of tea scale and tar spots can be severe. Powdery mildew, leaf spot, leaf rot, and tar spot are potential disease problems; however, it is resistant to Phytophthora root rot. Depending on their planting location this shrub can exhibit chlorosis, leaf drop, or leaf scorch from high pH soils.

VIDEO created by Ryan Contreras for “Landscape Plant Materials I:  Deciduous Hardwoods and Conifers or Landscape Plant Materials II:  Spring Flowering Trees and Shrubs” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University

 

More information on Ilex cornuta.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Flowers Galore Woodland Backyard Garden Walk Mountain Ridge Top Garden - South Lawn and Border
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#specimen#white flowers#wildlife plant#nectar plant#salt tolerant#broadleaf evergreen#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#hedges#specialized bees#cpp#deer resistant#foundation planting#red fruits#rounded#acidic soils tolerant#pollinator plant#vase-shaped#evergreen shrub#evergreen tree#bird friendly#partial shade tolerant#bee friendly#dense#cultivar#pollinator garden#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#specimen#white flowers#wildlife plant#nectar plant#salt tolerant#broadleaf evergreen#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#hedges#specialized bees#cpp#deer resistant#foundation planting#red fruits#rounded#acidic soils tolerant#pollinator plant#vase-shaped#evergreen shrub#evergreen tree#bird friendly#partial shade tolerant#bee friendly#dense#cultivar#pollinator garden#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ilex
    Species:
    cornuta
    Family:
    Aquifoliaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits are attractive to birds. Flowers attract bees. Members of the genus Ilex support the following specialized bee: Colletes banksi.
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wind Break
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Phytophthora root rot
    Edibility:
    Use caution. Berries are slightly toxic to humans if eaten in quantity.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
    Appendage:
    Spines
  • 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
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits are abundant, round, fleshy, and bright to dull red berries. They measure less than 0.5 inches in diameter and appear in clusters of 3 to 8. Fruits are heavily produced without pollination which is known as parthenocarpy. They ripen in the fall and persist into winter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are small, measuring 1/4 to 1/3 inches in diameter, and dull white. They bloom in the spring and are not showy but attract bees.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Prickly
    Smooth
    Waxy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are alternate, simple, glossy, dark green, and measure 2 to 4 inches long. The leaves have a single terminal spine at the apex, although occasionally two lateral spines will develop. These leaves are elliptic to oblong, leathery, and bullate or appear blistered. Margins are usually entire except for the single terminal spine.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Smooth gray bark becoming finely flakey with size.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The stems are slender, yellow-green or grayish-green, and turn reddish-green in the winter. The buds are small, and the leaf scar has one bundle scar. The branchlets are dense.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Heat
    Salt
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Spines/Thorns
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Minor toxicity. Ingestion may cause vomiting, diarrhea, or other illness in humans.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Saponins
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits