According to the Holly Society, “We now know that the spines on the distinctively-shaped holly leaves can act as miniature lightning conductors, thereby protecting the tree and other nearby objects.” So feel free to prune your holly and cut branches for the holidays, but you might be tempting fate to cut it down entirely! Holly is a genus of about 480 species of flowering plants. It is commonly called topel holly, although some of the named cultivars thereunder have different common … Introduction: American holly is a broad-leaf evergreen with a beautiful shape, but with a variety of insect and disease problems.The tree offers clusters of red berries that persist throughout fall and winter. This hybrid is a conical evergreen shrub or small tree that grows over time to 12-25 tall or more, unless pruned shorter. With proper care, these evergreen Holly trees survive well in rural, suburban, or urban areas. Try 3 issues of BBC Wildlife Magazine for just £5! Often the lower leaves are very spiny, while upper leaves are more ovate and have fewer spikes. English holly's native range is the British Isles to southern and central Europe. The bark of it is smooth, and grayish to grayish-brown. Fallen holly leaves decay very slowly – look out for their paper-thin skeletons on the ground. Ilex x attenuata is a natural hybrid originally found growing in the wild in Florida in 1924. The holly, or Ilex, genus consists of a large group of evergreen and deciduous trees that range in size from 18 inches to more than 50 feet tall. The american holly can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 5–9. Holly facts Holly mythology and folklore Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Oak Leaf holly (Ilex x “Conaf”) is a hybrid in the Red Holly series. At maturity, holly trees reach a height of 35 to 50 feet and a width of 15 to 25 feet. Carolina Holly (Ilex ambigua) Carolina holly is one of the deciduous species of holly. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Holly Trees are the only genus remaining in the family Aquifoliaceae, the others going extinct. The Holly berry is recognized throughout much of the United States as a symbol of the Christmas season; however, the trees branches and berries were used in by Pagan druids who wore Holly leaves on their heads. Its dense and finely-textured wood was popular in decorative marquetry and inlay work. There is nothing new about Burford Holly since it is commonly used as a shrub and kept small with pruning. Mature Size. Before holly was hung in houses to accompany Christmas trees, it was considered to be a sacred plant by the Druids. It's rich with magical mythology history Folklores & lore. How is holly dispersed? Ilex / ˈ aɪ l ɛ k s /, or holly, is a genus of about 480 species of flowering plants in the family Aquifoliaceae, and the only living genus in that family.The species are evergreen or deciduous trees, shrubs, and climbers from tropics to temperate zones worldwide. Yaupon (I. vomitoria), a shrubby tree reaching 8 metres (26 feet), bears oval leaves and red berries. It is a cross between I. cassine (dahoon) and I. opaca (American holly), both of which parents share native territory in the far southeastern U.S. (particularly from coastal North Carolina to Florida). Holly is a plant. The evergreen holly was the ruler of the dark winter months, while the oak was the ruler of the lighter summer months. Learn how to tell the difference between male and female plants, plus which birds are protective of holly trees. Credit: Ben Lee / WTML Holly is native to the UK. Omissions? Or they can be left to grow naturally - unclipped holly trees often have an attractive weepy look with full-to-the-ground foliage. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? A Changing Libraries Initiative - This site and all content is … With between 400 and 600 species, it is unsurprising the genus consists of evergreens and deciduous trees spanning between low ground cover, shrubs, climbing vines, and tall trees. The berries are bright red, vivid orange or … Holly leaves are evergreen. Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii', Burford Holly. The fruits are drupes and are an important winter food for many bird species; most are not safe for human consumption. What is new is training it into a small tree for parking lots islands, patios, even street side plantings. Hollies have alternate simple leaves, and the leaves of many species have wavy margins tipped with spines. Fruit appears on a female holly tree after pollination. It has smooth gray bark. Youpon holly is one of the more tolerant of the holly shrubs, doing well in a variety of soil types, moisture levels, pH levels, and sun exposures. The Eagleston Holly has a dense canopy with small slender branches which are smooth and light to medium gray in color. Giraffes would find it easier to eat holly leaves... Holly is well known for its tough, spiny leaves; the … Female flowers develop into rich red berries, which remain on the tree throughout winter. Hooray for holly wood. There are also four stamens, but these don’t produce pollen. This is the ovary, which forms the base of the yellowish stigma. Their small leav… ... Tree Type. If you are interested in growing English hollies or just want a few more English holly facts, read on. Already have an account with us? The somewhat taller American holly (I. opaca) has oblong prickly leaves and usually red fruits. Several states list Nellie Stevens Hollies on approved urban planting lists, as this Holly is a fast-growing vegetative screen, which is both drought tolerant and pollutant tolerant. All five thrush species found in Britain in winter love holly berries, dispersing the stone fruit through their droppings. Male and female flowers are on separate trees, so trees of both sexes must be located within the same area to ensure fruit production. As you scan a list of holly tree facts, you may think that one of the most charming qualities of the American holly (Ilex opaca) is its diversity. Possum haw (I. decidua), also deciduous, bears red fruits on a shrub growing to 10 metres (33 feet). By entering your details, you are agreeing to Discover Wildlife terms and conditions and privacy policy. Just one makes an ideal small-space specimen. Nellie Stevens Holly is a hardy tree. Holly facts Home Into the Forest Trees, Plants & Animals Trees Holly Holly facts With its prickly, evergreen leaves and bright red berries, holly (Ilex aquifolium) is a distinctive but uncommon small tree in the understorey of the Caledonian Forest. English holly (I. aquifolium), a tree growing to 15 metres (nearly 50 feet) tall, bears shining spiny dark evergreen leaves and usually red fruits. Holly guide: why it has leaves in winter, and which plants have berries, Iceberg guide: how they form, where they’re found, and how they’re used by wildlife, Corvids of the UK: how to identify, where to see them, and whether they are intelligent, Mistletoe guide: how it survives on other plants, and folklore associated with it, European robin guide: diet, habitat and species facts. With its prickly, evergreen leaves and bright red berries, holly is a distinctive but uncommon small tree in the understorey of the Caledonian Forest. The greatest diversity of species is found in the Americas and in Southeast Asia. The height of a full-grown holly tree varies depending on the species. The plants can be evergreen or deciduous. This holly does well in full sun or part shade and is very tolerant of drought. You can unsubscribe at any time. The male has four prominent, pollen-bearing stamens that splay out in an ‘X’ shape, seen in spring and summer, from May. The berries can be red, orange, or even yellow, and birds and other wildlife will feed on them through the winter months. Depending on the species, the fruit of a holly tree can either be orange, red, white, black or yellow. Like many other hollies, yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) is an evergreen shrub or tree that is loved for the colorful berries it produces on the female plants. A number of holly species are listed as endangered species by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and at least one, I. gardneriana, is extinct because of habitat loss. The somewhat taller American holly (I. opaca) has oblong prickly leaves and usually red fruits. New low growth has more spines as it is within the browsing zone of deer – leaves that are above 2–3m are smoother-edged. The margins may or may not be irregularly toothed. The species are evergreen or deciduous trees, shrubs, and climbers from tropics to temperate zones worldwide. East Palatka holly grows 35 to 40 feet tall, according to the University of Florida, and is a hybrid of Ilex cassine -- the Dahoon holly -- and Ilex opaca, American holly. Chinese holly (I. cornuta), from East Asia, a shrub reaching 3 metres (10 feet), produces scarlet berries among shining evergreen leaves. It is native to eastern North America, as is the deciduous winterberry (I. verticillata). Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences. As the whitest wood, it can also be easily stained. These evergreen leaves are 2 to 4 inches long and less than 2 inches wide. It can grow well … The holly oak is a tough evergreen tree as wide as it is tall with a dense rounded crown. Holly is a key foodplant for about 30 species of invertebrate, including the caterpillars of insects such as the holly blue butterfly (adult pictured below) and privet hawkmoth. Holly is a well-loved shrub that shelters birds and gives hedgehogs a cosy place to hibernate. Acorns are produced in the first year falling in autumn. Only the female plants produce berries, known as drupes. © Andrew Howe/Getty, Editorial consultant for BBC Wildlife, science writer and author. You’ll also find some tips on English holly plant care. Hollies can be shrubby or tree like, shaped for a manicured appearance into teardrops, lollipops (like the East Palatka holly pictured above) or even small shade trees. The leaves are a leathery, glossy, dark green and vary in size and shape. Long ago, the holly tree was considered one of the most sacred trees by the druids in Ireland. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. There are spineless and yellow-fruited forms of both species. There are many types (species) of holly. Japanese holly (I. crenata), an East Asian shrub growing to 6 metres (20 feet), has small evergreen leaves and black berries. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership, This article was most recently revised and updated by, Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Gardening Australia - Ilex, holly - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), holly - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). American holly normally grows to heights of 15 to 30 feet tall, but records indicate mature heights of up to 100 feet. There are spineless and yellow-fruited forms of both species. Updates? The type species is Ilex aquifolium, the common European holly used in Christmas decorations and cards. In general, holly trees can grow between 6 and 18 m (20 and 60 feet) once fully mature, while holly shrubs can grow between 30 cm and 6 m (1 and 20 feet). Both male and female plants produce small white flowers in spring which attract pollinators. Glossy dark green above, matt light green below, and waxy to … Valued for their attractive foliage and bright, decorative berries, holly trees add a dramatic touch to the … Both male and female holly trees exist, but only the female version can bear fruit. English holly plants (Ilex aquifolium) are the quintessential hollies, short broadleaf evergreen trees with dense, dark-green glossy leaves. Thanks! The Eagleston Holly can be used for a variety of landscape settings as either a tall screen or a solitary specimen when grown with a single trunk in tree form. English holly is a broadleaf evergreen tree or shrub that is grown as a landscape plant in the northwestern United States and Canada but is also commonly found escaping into forests in this region. This tree is considered both an evergreen tree and an ornamental tree. See Holly Research and R… All five thrush species found in Britain in winter love holly … Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Several species are cultivated as ornamentals for their distinctive foliage and red or black fruits, which persist into winter and are popular Christmas decorations. This development is related to protecting leaves within reach of browsing animals. Hollies are a group of glossy leaved plants with an excellent tolerance to shearing and bright berries. The single or clustered, usually greenish small flowers are unisexual and have four petals, and the male and female flowers are usually borne on separate plants. 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