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Japanese Holly Ilex crenata

Other Common Name(s):

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

Japanese Holly is a handsome, evergreen shrub in the Aquifoliaceae family. It is a native of Japan and east Asia and can be found in thickets, woods and wet places in lowland and mountains all over Japan. The genus name, Ilex, comes from the Latin Quercus ilex for holm oak and refers to the similarity in the shape of the leaves. The  epithet, crenate, refers to the crenate margins of the leaves. The shrub is dense, rigid, compact, and grows up to 10 feet tall. The plant tolerates severe pruning and you will find this plant often used to make topiaries.

Plant in the full sun to partial shade in acidic well-drained soil though it tolerates a wide range of soil types, from moist to dry, including clay. The shrub can be pruned to manage its size so it works well in small spaces. It tolerates drought, shade, air pollution, poor soils, and clay soils and is easy to transplant. It does have a slow growth rate and it may not thrive in areas with high heat and humidity (USDA zones 8 and 9). The species is dioecious (meaning individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant, thus both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). It is pollinated by bees and is not self-fertile. There are many cultivars available and used in landscaping; the parent species is rarely seen. It is abundantly planted as an ornamental in North Carolina.

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems: 

Spider mites and nematodes are occasional pests.  Alkaline soils will cause the leaves to yellow.

See this plant in the following landscapes:
Mountain Ridge Top Garden - North Lawn and Upper Drive Border Woodland Backyard Garden Walk Mountain Ridge Top Garden - East Lawn and Lower Drive Border
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Compacta', 'Convexa', 'Drops of gold', 'Geisha', 'Golden Gem', 'Green Luster', 'Helleri', 'Hetzii', 'Hoogendorn', 'Latifolia', 'Sky Pencil', 'Sky Pointer', 'Snowflake', 'Soft Touch', 'Stokes', 'Twiggy'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#white flowers#wildlife plant#nectar plant#winter interest#air pollution tolerant#flower arrangements#hedges#specialized bees#cpp#deer resistant#pollinator plant#black fruits#fantz#bee friendly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Compacta', 'Convexa', 'Drops of gold', 'Geisha', 'Golden Gem', 'Green Luster', 'Helleri', 'Hetzii', 'Hoogendorn', 'Latifolia', 'Sky Pencil', 'Sky Pointer', 'Snowflake', 'Soft Touch', 'Stokes', 'Twiggy'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#white flowers#wildlife plant#nectar plant#winter interest#air pollution tolerant#flower arrangements#hedges#specialized bees#cpp#deer resistant#pollinator plant#black fruits#fantz#bee friendly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ilex
    Species:
    crenata
    Family:
    Aquifoliaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    East Nepal to Temperate East Asia, Japan and Korea
    Distribution:
    Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    The small fragrant flowers attract bees. Members of the genus Ilex support the following specialized bee: Colletes banksi.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Mildly resistant to damage by deer.
    Edibility:
    Use caution. Human ingestion of berries can cause minor toxic reaction.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 5 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 5 ft. 0 in. - 9 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Multi-stemmed
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Fine
    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
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    6-feet-12 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Black, globose, berrylike-fruit on pollinated female plants from fall to spring that are 1/4 inch in length. Fruits are hidden below the foliage.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    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:
    Small (1/4 inch), dull, greenish white fragrant flowers in spring that form in clusters of 1 to 3. Pistillate cyme, in leaf axils of current season's growth; staminate solitary in leaf axils of current season's growth.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Long-lasting
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are alternate and simple and are shaped elliptic or ovate to oblong-lanceolate. Dark green leaves that are 1/2 to 1 1/4 inches long and are crowded on stems. The underside of leaves are dotted with blackish pellucid glands. Leaves are good in flower arrangements. Their dark green color provides winter interest.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Green
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Smooth, gray-brown or slightly greenish.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Stems are green on current season growth, and turn gray-green to gray-brown by year 2 or 3. They are often densely pubescent on young stems. Dense and rigid at maturity.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Diseases
    Drought
    Insect Pests
    Pollution
  • 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