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Holly
 
Holly
Holly Holly Holly Holly Holly Holly Holly
 

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Ilex aquifolium (English)    |     Ilex opaca (American)


“Deck the halls with boughs of holly, tra la la la la, la la la la.”

Pre-Christian societies celebrated the winter solstice with boughs of holly brought indoors to ward away evil spirits, a household custom continuing today for more benevolent reasons. American holly, Ilex opaca, grows from Canada to Florida. Hollies are not native to the western US. However, English holly, Ilex aquifolium, widely planted in the Pacific Northwest for decades, is now considered invasive.

Holly trees are dioecious, either female or male, and each must be planted to produce berries. Their leaves have a thick cuticle, often highly polished, with sharp tipped leaves and red berries in their axils. Flowers are greenish white. There are many cultivars, some with yellow or black berries; some have variegated leaves with highly spiny tips, or no spines at all. The bark is usually smooth and pale. The wood is creamy white, hard and clear of knots, excellent for inlaid work and dyes. Black piano keys are often made of holly wood.

Ilex cassine or “Yaupon” holly is a shrubby species from the southern states whose berries can be used as a purgative. Its dried, crumbled leaves are filled with caffeine and make an excellent tea. Ilex paraguariensis from Brazil and Argentina is the source of “Yerba Mate,” an ancient and still popular stimulant made from crushed holly leaves and boiling water.

Profile
Scientific Name Ilex aquifolium
Family Aquifoliaceae
Plant Type Evergreen Tree to 25m
Environment Prefers maritime climates; doesn't like extreme cold or heat. Needs good light to thrive and fruit at its best, but can also tolerate partial and even deep shade. Needs moist but well-drained soil. The Hillier Manual puts it best when it says, “I. aquifolium is 'adaptable to most soils and indifferent to sun and shade'.”
Bloom Small, slightly fragrant white flowers appear in May and June
Uses Good to use as a dominant shrub or small tree as they keep their structure for most of their lifespan, but can also work well in a 'supporting role' in your garden. I. aquifolium have a conical habit of growth and respond well to heavy pruning. Due to the spiny sharp tipped leaves, a good choice of plant for those areas of your home or garden where you would like to keep out 'others'.
More Info The holly 'berry' is not truly a berry at all, it is a drupe. A drupe is a fleshy fruit surrounding a seed. Peaches, plums, and cherries are also considered drupes.

Aquifolium means 'with pointed leaves, spiny-leaved'

The female plants bear the glossy red berries (about 6mm in diameter)

Natvie American people used Ilex opaca to symbolise courage and fiercness in battle by painting sprays of holly onto shields and jackets, or pinned to clothing prior to going into battle.
Location

Ilex aquifolium can be found in the Temperate Asia Garden
(Beds 23E, 41).

Plant Sales at San Francisco Botanical Garden
 

IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Photos by Docent Joanne Taylor
Text by Docent Kathy McNeil
Profile by Associate Curator David Kruse-Pickler

 
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Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

February

Magnolia laevifolia'Strybing Compact'

Magnolia laevifolia 'Strybing Compact'

March

Aristolochia californica

Aristolochia californica

April

   
Magnolia campbellii

Magnolia campbellii

January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Magnolia x veitchii

Magnolia x veitchii

March

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

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Aesculus californica

Aesculus californica

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Vaccinium ovatum

Vaccinium ovatum

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Sambucus racemosa

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Sequoia sempervirens

Sequoia sempervirens

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Asarum caudatum

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Deppea splendens

Deppea splendens

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Montanoa spp.

Montanoa spp.

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Bidens sp.

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Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

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Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

February

Bomaria spp.

Bomarea spp.

March

Rhododendron occidentale

Rhododendron occidentale

April

Polystichum munitum

Polystichum munitum

May

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

June

Salvia leucantha

Salvia leucantha

July

Hydrangea seemannii

Hydrangea seemannii

August

Wollemia nobilis

Wollemia nobilis

September

Cyathea cooperi

Cyathea cooperi

October

Pinus radiata

Pinus radiata

November

Correa spp.

Correa spp.

December

Garrya elliptica

Garrya elliptica

January

Magnolia x soulangeana

Magnolia x soulangeana

February

Senecio glastifolius

Senecio glastifolius

March

Ribes spp.

Ribes spp.

April

Oxalis oregana

Oxalis oregana

May

Calandrinia grandiflora

Calandrinia grandiflora

June

Taxus baccata

Taxus baccata

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Passiflora parritae

Passiflora parritae

September

Malvaviscus arboreus

Malvaviscus arboreus

October

Monterey Cypress

Monterey Cypress

November

Aloe arborescens

Aloe arborescens

December

Aloe plicatilis

Aloe plicatilis

January

Banksia seminuda

Banksia seminuda

February

Zantedeschia elliottiana

Zantedeschia aethiopica

March

Magnolia laevifolia

Magnolia laevifolia

April

Araucaria heterophylla

Araucaria heterophylla

May

Toxicodendron diversilobum

Toxicodendron diversilobum

June

Clarkia sp.

Clarkia sp.

July

Agapanthus

Agapanthus

August

Brugmansia

Brugmansia

September

Cedrus spp.

Cedrus spp.

October

Protea repens

Protea repens

November

Camellia sinensis

Camellia sinensis

December

Thujopsis dolabrata

Thujopsis dolabrata

January

Gordonia longicarpa

Gordonia longicarpa

February

Rojasianthe superba

Rojasianthe superba

March

Echium spp.

Echium spp.

April

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

May

Digitalis purpurea

Digitalis purpurea

June

Felicia amelloides

Felicia amelloides

July

Ceroxylon quindiuense

Ceroxylon quindiuense

August

Amaryllis belladonna

Amaryllis belladonna

September

Ginkgo biloba

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October

Acer morrisonense

Acer morrisonense

November

Ilex aquifolium

Ilex aquifolium

December

Picea sitchensis

Picea sitchensis

January

Telanthophora grandifolia

Telanthophora grandifolia

February

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

March

Leptospermum Spp.

Leptospermum

April

Salvia gesneraeflora

Salvia gesneraeflora

May

Lavandula spp.

Lavandula spp.

June

Pelargonium

Pelargonium

July

Fuchsia paniculata

Fuchsia paniculata

August

Luma apiculata

Luma apiculata

September

Luculia

Luculia

October

Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

November

Cycads

Cycad

December

Restionaceae

Restionaceae

January

Hellebores

Hellebores

February

Ceanothus

Ceanothus

March

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

April

Psoralea pinnata

Psoralea pinnata

May

Fremontodendron californicum

Fremontodendron californicum

June

Leucadendron argenteum

Leucadendron argenteum

July

Crocosmia

Crocosmia

August

Gunnera tinctoria

Gunnera tinctoria

September

Pellaea rotundifolia

Pellaea rotundifolia

October

Fuchsia boliviana

Fuchsia boliviana

November

Erica canaliculata

Erica canaliculata

December

Magnolia campbelli

Magnolia campbelli

January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Camellia

Camellia

March

Geranium maderense

Geranium maderense

April

Acmena smithii

Acmena smithii

May

Eschscholzia californica

Eschscholzia californica

June

Dendromecon harfordii

Dendromecon harfordii

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Eupatorium purpureum

Eupatorium purpureum

September

Epilobium canum sp.

Epilobium canum sp.

October

Grevillea spp.

Grevillea spp.

November

Drimys winteri

Drimys winteri

December

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