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Carissa Holly Ilex cornuta 'Carissa'

Other Common Name(s):

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

Ilex 'Carissa' is a cultivar of I. cornuta. At 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide, it is a smaller version of its parent, but makes an excellent formal shrub. This compact plant is drought and heat tolerant once established and has dense, rounded, evergreen leaves that look particularly attractive as a backdrop to colorful flowering plants. It thrives in the sun or partial shade and in slightly acidic well-drained soils. 'Carissa' is less cold hardy than another small I. cornuta cultivar, 'Dwarf Burford', but is just as easily transplantable.  Its large leathery leaves with a single spine at the tip are glossy, provide a coarse texture in the landscape, and remain attractive all year.  Its flowers are fairly insignificant, though fragrant, and unlike the parent, does not produce many of the traditional red fruits.  

The specific epithet "cornuta' means horn-shaped. The plant is dioecious (meaning individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). You can use 'Carissa' as a hedge, a screen, in a shrub border, or foundation planting. It can be pruned almost any time of year; however, pruning is rarely necessary as it maintains its rounded shape. It should be fertilized lightly each spring and fall.  

This shrub is particularly resistant to browsing by deer.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: This plant has few pest problems.

More information on Ilex cornuta.

See this plant in the following landscapes:
Lush Foundation Planting Border Landscape Pinewild County Club, Moore County Mountain Ridge Top Garden - East Lawn and Lower Drive Border
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#fragrant flowers#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#shrub#easy to grow#nectar plant#salt tolerant#year-round interest#hedges#specialized bees#cpp#transplant#deer resistant#glossy leaves#foundation planting#rounded#border planting#shimmer#screening#pollinator plant#evergreen shrub#border middle#compact habit#bird friendly#bee friendly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#fragrant flowers#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#shrub#easy to grow#nectar plant#salt tolerant#year-round interest#hedges#specialized bees#cpp#transplant#deer resistant#glossy leaves#foundation planting#rounded#border planting#shimmer#screening#pollinator plant#evergreen shrub#border middle#compact habit#bird friendly#bee friendly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ilex
    Species:
    cornuta
    Family:
    Aquifoliaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern China, Korea
    Distribution:
    Southeastern United States
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits are attractive to birds and bees. Members of the genus Ilex support the following specialized bee: Colletes banksi.
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Screening
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to damage by deer and Phytophthora root rot.
    Edibility:
    Use caution. Berries are slightly toxic to humans if eaten in quantity.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Mounding
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
    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
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Fruit is generally not observed, though if the round red fruits do appear they will be present in fall and winter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Insignificant
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small, 4-parted, radial, axillary, dull-white flowers in late spring that are 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch. Male and female flowers are on different plants (dioecious). Fragrant but not showy.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Prickly
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are shiny and dark green above, but flat and olive green below. Alternate, simple, leathery, ovate, coriaceous, glossy leaves are 2 to 3 inches in length. Leaves have a long, single terminal at the spine (only apical). Leaves have a transparent rim around the leaf margin that reflects light and appears to shimmer. Some leaves appear to be bullate.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Smooth gray bark becoming finely flakey with size.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Slender, green stems turning reddish-green in the winter, buds small, leaf scar with 1 bundle scar. Branchlets are dense. Current growth stem color is green.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Lawn
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    English Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Heat
    Pollution
    Problems:
    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