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Horned Holly Ilex cornuta

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
EYE-leks kor-NOO-tuh
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.
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Burford', 'Burfordii Nana', 'Carissa', 'Convexa', 'D'Or', 'Dwarf Burford', 'Needlepoint', 'O'Spring', 'Rotunda'
Tags:
#bees#white#evergreen#small tree#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#white flowers#shrub#wildlife plant#honey bees#nectar plant#winter interest#specialized bees#privacy#spines#red fruits#chinese#non-native#screening#pollinator plant#fantz#evergreen shrub
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Burford', 'Burfordii Nana', 'Carissa', 'Convexa', 'D'Or', 'Dwarf Burford', 'Needlepoint', 'O'Spring', 'Rotunda'
Tags:
#bees#white#evergreen#small tree#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#white flowers#shrub#wildlife plant#honey bees#nectar plant#winter interest#specialized bees#privacy#spines#red fruits#chinese#non-native#screening#pollinator plant#fantz#evergreen shrub
  • 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
    Woody Plant 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:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    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 Inflorescence:
    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 spring that are 0.2-0.3 in. 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:
    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, 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. 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. Branchlets are dense.
  • 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