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Ilex x attenuata 'Fosteri'

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
EYE-leks at-ten-yoo-AY-tuh FOS-ter-ee
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Ilex x attenuata, or Topal Holly, is a naturally growing evergreen shrub or small tree that is a hybrid cross of I. cassine (Dahoon) and I. opaca (American Holly). It was initially found growing wild in Florida in the 1920's, but is now found throughout the southeastern United States where both parents are native. 'Fosteri' or Foster's Holly, is a cultivar of I. x attenuata and, like its parent, is a small evergreen tree that is densely pyramidal and grows up to 20 feet tall (slightly smaller than the 25 foot parent). It is fast growing and is a heavy fruiter, producing red fruits that persist through winter. This plant is moderately salt tolerant, has known pest problems, and is mildly resistant to damage by deer. 

Originally, there were five Foster's Holly clones. Clones 1 and 5 are no longer available. Clone 4 is a male and clones 2 and 3 are female and virtually indistinguishable. Foster's Holly is the rare holly in which female plants produce fruit without fertilization from a male pollinator. Botanically speaking, it is parthenocarpic (from Greek, parthenos meaning virgin and karpos meaning fruit). Therefore, it is unnecessary to purchase a male foster holly for fruit.

Foster's Holly grows best in acidic, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Although the best fruit production occurs in full sun, these plants do well with some afternoon shade in hot summer climates. You should site the plant where it can be protected from cold winter winds and the soil is well drained. Mulch helps retain soil moisture and deter weed growth. Prune in winter to maintain a desired size, although keep in mind that the plant flowers on new growth. Plants can suffer from the cold in USDA Zone 5 and below. 

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

Insect problems include holly leaf miner, spittlebugs, spider mites, whitefly and scale. Susceptible to leaf spot, leaf rot, tar spot and powdery mildew, leaf drop, leaf scorch and chlorosis (yellowing of leaves in high pH soils).

More information on Ilex x attenuata.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Foster No. 2'
    darker green, narrow leaves
  • 'Hume No. 2'
    small leaves
'Foster No. 2', 'Hume No. 2'
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#red berries#wildlife plants#nectar plant#salt tolerant#playground#specialized bees#food source wildlife#fast growing#cpp#deer resistant#children's garden#red fruits#pollinator plant#fantz#food source winter#bird friendly#bee friendly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Foster No. 2'
    darker green, narrow leaves
  • 'Hume No. 2'
    small leaves
'Foster No. 2', 'Hume No. 2'
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#red berries#wildlife plants#nectar plant#salt tolerant#playground#specialized bees#food source wildlife#fast growing#cpp#deer resistant#children's garden#red fruits#pollinator plant#fantz#food source winter#bird friendly#bee friendly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ilex
    Species:
    cassine x opaca
    Family:
    Aquifoliaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Florida
    Distribution:
    Southeastern United States
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits are attractive to birds. Flowers attract bees. Some birds and animals feed on the fruit and foliage in the winter. Members of the genus Ilex support the following specialized bee: Colletes banksi.
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Edible fruit
    Screening
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    Use caution. Human consumption of berries can cause minor toxic reaction.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 20 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 4 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Conical
    Erect
    Open
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    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:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Very Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    This plant heavily produces round, red berries that persists into winter and are less than an inch long and wide.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Inconspicuous, white flowers that are less than an inch in axils.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Smooth
    Waxy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are 1 1/2 to 3 inches long. They are alternate, simple, elliptic to oblong-ovate, and spinose with 1 to 4 spiny teeth on each side on the upper half. Leaves are glossy and dark green and can grow to be a little under 3 inches long. Leaf bases are cuneate (not attenuate).
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Lawn
    Naturalized Area
    Recreational Play Area
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Edible Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Salt
  • 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