Ilex Aquifolium or English Holly
English or European Holly
The generic name Ilex vas applied by the Romans to an evergreen oak. The genus has some 300 species distributed throughout the warm and temperate regions of both hemispheres. They are shrubs or trees, some evergreen, others deciduous, usually with stiff, entire or toothed leaves; the teeth are often spiny.
English holly is native to western and southern Europe, northern Africa and western Asia to China. It grows to a height of 15 to 25 m (50 to 80 ft) and is generally of dense, pyramidal habit. Theare borne from May to June and the fruits are bright red berries that persist until winter. Holly is most widely grown in the coastal regions of north western Europe. Besides the type species also widely grown are the varieties heterophylla with almost entire leaves, pendula, with drooping branches, bacciflava with yellow fruits, and forms such as ‘J. C. van Tol’ with large spiny leaves and orange berries, and ‘Pyramidalis’ of columnar habit.
English holly is propagated by means of seeds which are stored for the winter at a temperature of 4 to 6° C (40 to 45° F), stratified in the spring and sown in the autumn. It may also be propagated by cuttings of ripened wood taken in September to October; the cuttings root slowly. Some forms may also be propagated by grafting on Ilex aquifolium rootstock. Holly requires moderately nourishing. In harsher climates it should be put in a sheltered position. It is useful in gardens both as a solitary specimen and in groups, and in front of tree plantings and in hedges.