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Ilex x attenuata

Common Name(s):

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. Topal Holly has a conical form and, unless pruned, matures to 12 to 25 feet tall or more. The Topal Holly has generated a number of cultivars, many of which have different common names (for example, the I. x attenuata 'Fosteri' cultivar is commonly called the Foster Holly). The hybrid cultivars grow in a variety of different forms and habits from the Topal Holly, but generally share the following traits: spiny, elliptic to obovate-lanceolate evergreen leaves (to 3 inches long) with attenuated bases, insignificant greenish-white spring flowers and showy, pea-sized, red fruits that persists over winter. The fruits provide an ornamental winter interest and attract birds.

Genus name, Ilex, comes from the Latin name Quercus ilex for holm oak in reference to the foliage similarities. The hybrid name attenuata means narrowing to a point, in reference to the growth habit of this hybrid.

The Topal Holly is 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 are dioecious (separate male and female plants) and, in order to set fruit, female plants will need a nearby male pollinator. Plants can suffer from the cold in USDA Zone 5 and below.

Disease, 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).

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
'East Palatka', 'Fosteri', 'Savannah'
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#wildlife plant#native tree#winter interest#hedges#foundation planting#red fruits#screening#evergreen shrub#evergreen tree#food source winter#small group plantings#bird friendly#food source soft mast fruit#winter fruits
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'East Palatka', 'Fosteri', 'Savannah'
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#wildlife plant#native tree#winter interest#hedges#foundation planting#red fruits#screening#evergreen shrub#evergreen tree#food source winter#small group plantings#bird friendly#food source soft mast fruit#winter fruits
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ilex
    Species:
    attenuata
    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:
    Winter food sources for birds and wildlife. Fruits are attractive to birds. Members of the genus Ilex support the following specialized bee: Colletes banksi.
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    Use caution. Human consumption of berries can cause minor toxic reaction.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 12 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 18 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Conical
    Dense
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
    Appendage:
    Thorns
  • 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
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Pea sized red fruits persist through winter and provide interest. Female plants will need a nearby male pollinator to set fruit.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Produces greenish-white, but insignificant, flowers on new growth. Blooms in late spring.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Prickly
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Oblanceolate
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Spiny, simple, elliptic to obovate 3 inches long. Evergreen leaves provide winter interest.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Small groups
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    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