Plant DetailShow Menu

Ilex x 'Nellie R. Stevens'

Phonetic Spelling
EYE-leks
Description

Nellie R. Stevens Holly is a hybrid cultivar of I. aquifolium and I. cornuta in the Aquifoliaceae or holly familyIt is typically grown as a large broadleaf evergreen shrub that quickly reaches a mature height of 15 to 30 feet and a width of 8 to 25 feet.  Its dense and conical to pyramidal form allows it to be trained into a small tree if the lower branches are removed. The small flowers that appear in spring are attractive to bees and other pollinators.  It produces bright red berries that ripen in the fall and remain through the winter, feeding a variety of birds. The glossy dark green leaves are leathery and have spinose teeth.

Most hollies are dioecious plants and require both a male and female shrub or tree for fruit production. The unique fixture of this shrub is that the berries can be produced without the benefit of a male pollinator. It is called a partially "parthenocarpic" plant because it can set some fruits without a male pollinator. Though it can produce fruits without a male pollinator, Ilex cornuta and 'Edward J. Stevens' are male hollies that can assist with pollination.

Nellie R. Stevens from Oxford, Maryland is responsible for this hybrid. In 1900, she visited the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, DC, and acquired the berries. The plant was only known by her family until 1952. 

The genus name, Ilex, is derived from the Latin name Quercus ilex for the holm oak. This references the foliage resembling the evergreen leaves of the holm oak and many of the other shrubs in the Ilex genus.

Nellie R. Stevens Holly performs best in full sun to partial shade and rich, slightly acidic soils that are moist and well-drained. If pruning is required, it is best done in the winter months.  This shrub may need some protection from the afternoon sun to prevent leaf scorch. It tolerates a range of soil types including heavy clay, but it is best to avoid wet sites. This broadleaf evergreen is a vigorous drought, air pollution, and heat-tolerant. 

Nellie R. Stevens Holly is one of the best and most popular hollies for southern warm climates in the United States. Use this plant as a specimen or take advantage of its dense spiny foliage for a barrier, hedge, or screen planting.  Mass it in a woodland garden or plant it along a foundation.  The showy red fruits make for great winter interest and can add some height to the back of a border. Heavy fruit sets of showy red berries make for great winter interest in any garden.  

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom:  Spring       Foliage:  Year-round          Fruits:  Fall and Winter

Quick ID Hints:

  • Bullate leaves with 1-3 spines along each margin.
  • Leaves consistently vary in the number of spines.
  • Abundant red fruits.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Insect pests that can be a problem include holly leaf miners, scale, spider mites, and whiteflies.  Disease problems include leaf spots, root rot, canker, and powdery mildew.  It is also susceptible to leaf drop, leaf scorch, and chlorosis if the soil pH is too high.  

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy, and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Mountain Ridge Top Garden - East Lawn and Lower Drive Border Mountain Ridge Top Garden - North Lawn and Upper Drive Border Mountain Ridge Top Garden - North Woods Mountain Ridge Top Garden - West Meadow and Woods Mountain Ridge Top Garden - West Lawn and Border
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#drought tolerant#specimen#shrub#wildlife plant#dark green#nectar plant#salt tolerant#broadleaf evergreen#low maintenance#winter interest#mass planting#security plant#air pollution tolerant#showy fruits#hedges#specialized bees#fast growing#privacy#cpp#foundation planting#spiny leaves#border planting#screening#pollinator plant#fantz#leathery leaves#evergreen shrub#border back#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#bee friendly#winter fruits#dense growth#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#drought tolerant#specimen#shrub#wildlife plant#dark green#nectar plant#salt tolerant#broadleaf evergreen#low maintenance#winter interest#mass planting#security plant#air pollution tolerant#showy fruits#hedges#specialized bees#fast growing#privacy#cpp#foundation planting#spiny leaves#border planting#screening#pollinator plant#fantz#leathery leaves#evergreen shrub#border back#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#bee friendly#winter fruits#dense growth#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ilex
    Family:
    Aquifoliaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Cultivated by Nellie R. Stevens of Oxford, MD in the 1900s.broa
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits are attractive to birds. 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, moderately salt tolerant.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 15 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Conical
    Dense
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Oval
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    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
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits are abundant, bright, red, globose berries that measure about 1/3 inch in diameter. They ripen in the fall and persist into winter. This plant can produce some fruit without fertilization from a male pollinator plant.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are small, greenish-white, and inconspicuous. Pollinators such as honeybees and bumblebees enjoy the blooms in the spring.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Prickly
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are glossy, deep green on the upper surface, light green on the undersides, measure 2 to 4 inches long, and are attractive year-round. The leaves are alternate, simple, bullate, elliptic to oblong, and have 1-2 spines on each side. They have a terminal spine at the apex and often vary in the number of spines they have.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Security
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Heat
    Pollution
    Salt
    Problems:
    Spines/Thorns