It's rich with magical mythology history Folklores & lore. Carolina Holly (Ilex ambigua) Carolina holly is one of the deciduous species of holly. The american holly can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 5–9. It has outstanding potential as a standalone specimen or massed with others of its kind in a glorious hedge. Holly, (genus Ilex), genus of some 600 species of shrubs and trees in the family Aquifoliaceae, distributed nearly worldwide. Main image: A robin on a branch of holly in the snow. As one of Britain’s most common native trees, holly has been used by furniture makers for centuries. Nellie Stevens Holly is a hardy tree. A Changing Libraries Initiative - This site and all content is … Botanically speaking, the fruit is the hard ‘stone’ at the centre, the exocarp is the red outer skin and the mesocarp is the fleshy orange layer in between. The Eagleston Holly has a dense canopy with small slender branches which are smooth and light to medium gray in color. By entering your details, you are agreeing to Discover Wildlife terms and conditions and privacy policy. At maturity, holly trees reach a height of 35 to 50 feet and a width of 15 to 25 feet. 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! The evergreen holly was the ruler of the dark winter months, while the oak was the ruler of the lighter summer months. Both male and female holly trees exist, but only the female version can bear fruit. It can grow well … 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. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). It is grown commercially in the Pacific Northwest and commonly used in decorations and floral arrangements as well as in landscapes. 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). Only the female plants produce berries, known as drupes. Learn how to tell the difference between male and female plants, plus which birds are protective of holly trees. Mistle thrushes are often highly protective of their tree, noisily guarding its berries against other birds. Both male and female plants produce small white flowers in spring which attract pollinators. 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). Hollies have alternate simple leaves, and the leaves of many species have wavy margins tipped with spines. © Andrew Howe/Getty, Editorial consultant for BBC Wildlife, science writer and author. Females produce bright berries. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. English holly (I. aquifolium), a tree growing to 15 metres (nearly 50 feet) tall, bears shining spiny dark evergreen leaves and usually red fruits. English holly plants (Ilex aquifolium) are the quintessential hollies, short broadleaf evergreen trees with dense, dark-green glossy leaves. Mature Size. 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. With proper care, these evergreen Holly trees survive well in rural, suburban, or urban areas. 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. The Holly Tree: Facts Mythologies & FolkloresThe Holly tree just like all tree's is incredible! The somewhat taller American holly (I. opaca) has oblong prickly leaves and usually red fruits. The margins may or may not be irregularly toothed. Holly leaves are evergreen. Like other hollies, this species is dioecious (separate male and female plants), so you will need to plant a male pollinator in order for this shrub to flower and bear fruit. With its prickly, evergreen leaves and bright red berries, holly is a distinctive but uncommon small tree in the understorey of the Caledonian Forest. Holly is a well-loved shrub that shelters birds and gives hedgehogs a cosy place to hibernate. Glossy dark green above, matt light green below, and waxy to … Fallen holly leaves decay very slowly – look out for their paper-thin skeletons on the ground. Holly trees feature simple alternate leaves that are oval in shape and which feature points along the edges. Acorns are produced in the first year falling in autumn. The holly oak is a tough evergreen tree as wide as it is tall with a dense rounded crown. English holly and American holly are used as ornamental Christmas greens. Or they can be left to grow naturally - unclipped holly trees often have an attractive weepy look with full-to-the-ground foliage. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Oak Leaf holly (Ilex x “Conaf”) is a hybrid in the Red Holly series. These evergreen leaves are 2 to 4 inches long and less than 2 inches wide. The greatest diversity of species is found in the Americas and in Southeast Asia. Several species are cultivated as ornamentals for their distinctive foliage and red or black fruits, which persist into winter and are popular Christmas decorations. Hollies are a group of glossy leaved plants with an excellent tolerance to shearing and bright berries. 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). Mate, a tealike beverage common in parts of South America, is made from the leaves of yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis). This is the ovary, which forms the base of the yellowish stigma. Yaupon is dioeciouswhich means that male and female flowers are born on separate plants; male yaupon hollies do not produce berries. You can unsubscribe at any time. Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii', Burford Holly. It has smooth gray bark. Holly facts Holly mythology and folklore Their small leav… You’ll also find some tips on English holly plant care. It is native to eastern North America, as is the deciduous winterberry (I. verticillata). Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences. There are many types (species) of holly. 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. Credit: Ben Lee / WTML Holly is native to the UK. The berries can be red, orange, or even yellow, and birds and other wildlife will feed on them through the winter months. American Holly Ilex opaca Hardiness Zones. English holly's native range is the British Isles to southern and central Europe. 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. Just one makes an ideal small-space specimen. The fruits are drupes and are an important winter food for many bird species; most are not safe for human consumption. 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. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. 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. 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. Long ago, the holly tree was considered one of the most sacred trees by the druids in Ireland. Giraffes would find it easier to eat holly leaves... Holly is well known for its tough, spiny leaves; the … There are spineless and yellow-fruited forms of both species. Already have an account with us? Often the lower leaves are very spiny, while upper leaves are more ovate and have fewer spikes. The bark of it is smooth, and grayish to grayish-brown. Its dense and finely-textured wood was popular in decorative marquetry and inlay work. Often referred to as the Christmas holly, this berry-laden evergreen shrub or tree is preferred for wreath production and holiday decorations. 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. What is new is training it into a small tree for parking lots islands, patios, even street side plantings. American holly normally grows to heights of 15 to 30 feet tall, but records indicate mature heights of up to 100 feet. Updates? There are also four stamens, but these don’t produce pollen. Female flowers develop into rich red berries, which remain on the tree throughout winter. This hybrid is a conical evergreen shrub or small tree that grows over time to 12-25 tall or more, unless pruned shorter. The species are evergreen or deciduous trees, shrubs, and climbers from tropics to temperate zones worldwide. Hooray for holly wood. This tree is considered both an evergreen tree and an ornamental tree. Holly Trees have famously spiky leaves! 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. Holly Trees are the only genus remaining in the family Aquifoliaceae, the others going extinct. Ilex x attenuata is a natural hybrid originally found growing in the wild in Florida in 1924. You're now subscribed to our newsletter. Holly is a plant. There is nothing new about Burford Holly since it is commonly used as a shrub and kept small with pruning. How is holly dispersed? Depending on the species, the fruit of a holly tree can either be orange, red, white, black or yellow. The berries are bright red, vivid orange or … Holly is a genus of about 480 species of flowering plants. The somewhat taller American holly (I. opaca) has oblong prickly leaves and usually red fruits. It is commonly called topel holly, although some of the named cultivars thereunder have different common … Possum haw (I. decidua), also deciduous, bears red fruits on a shrub growing to 10 metres (33 feet). English holly (I. aquifolium), a tree growing to 15 metres (nearly 50 feet) tall, bears shining spiny dark evergreen leaves and usually red fruits. Fruit appears on a female holly tree after pollination. Yaupon (I. vomitoria), a shrubby tree reaching 8 metres (26 feet), bears oval leaves and red berries. The leaves are a leathery, glossy, dark green and vary in size and shape. Omissions? All five thrush species found in Britain in winter love holly berries, dispersing the stone fruit through their droppings. Holly is a diocecious plant – which means that it has separate male and female plants. On the poor soils of coastal beaches, this holly may never exceed shrub size. Before holly was hung in houses to accompany Christmas trees, it was considered to be a sacred plant by the Druids. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Valued for their attractive foliage and bright, decorative berries, holly trees add a dramatic touch to the … New low growth has more spines as it is within the browsing zone of deer – leaves that are above 2–3m are smoother-edged. 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. 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. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? 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. All five thrush species found in Britain in winter love holly … As the whitest wood, it can also be easily stained. 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. Japanese holly (I. crenata), an East Asian shrub growing to 6 metres (20 feet), has small evergreen leaves and black berries. Try 3 issues of BBC Wildlife Magazine for just £5! The height of a full-grown holly tree varies depending on the species. Chinese holly (I. cornuta), from East Asia, a shrub reaching 3 metres (10 feet), produces scarlet berries among shining evergreen leaves. The male has four prominent, pollen-bearing stamens that splay out in an ‘X’ shape, seen in spring and summer, from May. Thanks! The plants can be evergreen or deciduous. 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. If you are interested in growing English hollies or just want a few more English holly facts, read on. This holly does well in full sun or part shade and is very tolerant of drought. This development is related to protecting leaves within reach of browsing animals. ... Tree Type. The type species is Ilex aquifolium, the common European holly used in Christmas decorations and cards. 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. The female has a fat green ‘boss’ in the middle. The flowering season is the same as the male. 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. 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. See Holly Research and R… This pyramidal tree features dense foliage and grows less than 12 inches annually, making it a slow-growing tree. 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