Plant DetailShow Menu

Ilex cornuta

Common Name(s):

Description

Chinese Holly is a holly from Asia that can be grown as a hedge up to 15 ft tall or trained to be a small tree up to 25 feet tall.  The unusual rectangular leaves resemble bull horns. This holly is tolerant of most soils except poorly-drained ones and can be grown in full to partial sun. It is tolerant of heat and humidity and is drought tolerant once established making it a good choice for the south. Prune in the late winter to control its size if needed. A male plant is needed for female plants to produce berries.

The spiny leaves make this a good choice for a barrier or privacy screen or use as a hedge.

It has escaped cultivation and has naturalized in some states including NC.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Spiny, coriaceous leaves.
  • Leaf apex spinose and pointing downward.
  • Lateral spines near leaf apex resemble bull horns.
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#white#evergreen#small tree#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#white flowers#shrub#wildlife plant#honey bees#nectar plant#hedges#specialized bees#spines#chinese#non-native#pollinator plant#fantz
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#white#evergreen#small tree#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#white flowers#shrub#wildlife plant#honey bees#nectar plant#hedges#specialized bees#spines#chinese#non-native#pollinator plant#fantz
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ilex
    Species:
    cornuta
    Family:
    Aquifoliaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern China, Korea
    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
    Sound
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wind Break
    Dimensions:
    Height: 8 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    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:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    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
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    1/3 inch fruits are bright to dull-red and berry-like. They are produced on female plants. Fruits persist into winter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small, axillary, dull-white flowers in spring that are 0.2-0.3 in. Male and female flowers are on different plants (dioecious). Fragrant but not showy.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Prickly
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Alternate, coriaceous, simple, dark glossy green leaves above, yellow-green below. Leaves are 1.5-4 in. long, are oblong-rectangular, and have a varying number of marginal spines. Leaves have three strong spines on the apex and one or two spines at the base that can resemble bull horns. The apex is spinose, points downward, and terminates in a spine. There is typically a spine at each corner of the rectangle, plus one on the downward curving middle leaf. Leaves have minute, dark, and triangular stipules.
  • 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.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Small groups
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Heat
    Humidity
    Pollution
    Problems:
    Spines/Thorns