The Main Plant entry for Ilex

This database entry exists to show plant data and photos that apply generically to all Ilex.

General Plant Information (Edit)
Miscellaneous: Dioecious


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  • Posted by Marilyn (Kentucky - Zone 6a) on May 20, 2013 7:53 PM concerning plant:
    "Plants in this genus have simple, alternate glossy leaves, typically with a spiny toothed, or serrated leaf margin. The inconspicuous flower is greenish white, with four petals. They are generally dioecious, with male and female flowers on different plants, although there are exceptions.

    The small fruits of Ilex, although often referred to as berries, are technically drupes. They range in color from red to brown to black, and rarely green or yellow. The "bones" contain up to ten seeds each. Some species produce fruits parthenogenetically, such as the cultivar 'Nellie R. Stevens'. The fruits ripen in winter and thus provide winter colour contrast between the bright red of the fruits and the glossy green evergreen leaves. Hence the cut branches, especially of I. aquifolium, are widely used in Christmas decoration. The fruits are generally slightly toxic to humans, and can cause vomiting and diarrhea when ingested. However, they are a very important food source for birds and other wildlife.

    The berries of various species contain Theobromine, a compound similar to caffeine. In very small doses, theobromine and other caffeines only mildly stimulate the nervous system. However larger amounts can cause dizziness, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhoea, elevated pulse rate, and low blood pressure, as well as drowsiness.

    Berries attract birds that eat them after the frosts have reduced toxicity. However, if household pets ingest holly, they are very liable to be poisoned, and it is a very good idea to keep holly decorations out of reach of pets and/or children."

    Taken from wikipedia's page at:

  • Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Dec 22, 2018 11:46 AM concerning plant:
    About 400 species have been classified that are mostly native to temperate Eurasia and North America, but some species are tropical in Africa and southern Asia. They are trees and shrubs with simple, alternate deciduous or evergreen leaves. The evergreen leaves can be soft & smooth, toothed to untoothed, or with leaf spines on the margins that are prickly, often painfully so. The plants are dioecious so that the small, inconspicuous, greenish, whitish or yellowish flowers are either the staminate (male) flowers with some stamen showing or the pistillate (female) flowers with the pistil or pistils. The female plants bear the "berries" that are really rounded drupes (cherry-like fruit structures) that are usually red or black, but a few species or cultivars bear yellow, orange, or white drupes. Horticulturists have made a number of hybrid species with a good number of cultivars; besides many cultivars of the commonly used species being available. What is most useful about a cultivar is that it is labelled as being either male or female, though some cultivars are composed of several clones that differ in gender. Overall, many hollies are good or high quality landscape woody plants.
Discussion Threads about this plant
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Small shrub by jsf67 Apr 22, 2017 12:32 AM 1

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