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Ilex Species, English Holly, European Holly

Ilex aquifolium

Family: Aquifoliaceae (a-kwee-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ilex (EYE-leks) (Info)
Species: aquifolium (a-kwee-FOH-lee-um) (Info)
Synonym:Aquifolium croceum
Synonym:Aquifolium ferox
Synonym:Aquifolium heterophyllum
Synonym:Aquifolium ilex
Synonym:Ilex balearica



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer




Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

4.5 or below (very acidic)

4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)

5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Lake City, Florida

Olathe, Kansas

Shreveport, Louisiana

Brookeville, Maryland

Brewster, Massachusetts

Rowley, Massachusetts

West Tisbury, Massachusetts

Summit, Mississippi

South Jordan, Utah

Charlottesville, Virginia

Lakewood, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 2, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This has naturalized widely on the west coast from British Columbia to southern California. It's harmless further east, but CAL-IPC has put this on the list of plants that invade and damage natural habitat in California.

Seed-grown trees are very spiny when young, growing less spiny with maturity.

This is less hardy than our native Ilex opaca. Dirr gives its useful range in eastern N. America as Z6b to Z7b. Good south into Z10 on the west coast, where summers are cooler.


On May 7, 2015, dirt_girl from Scottsville, VA wrote:

I have a beautiful bronze leaf English holly, but she has never berried since the season I bought her, when she came pre fertilized. 2 years ago, I bought a handsome Gold Coast ilex to be her mate. It flowered this year and now has small green berries where the flowers were. Has my Gold Coast become trans-gender or is this a post-flower seed of some sort. Very sad in VA.


On May 4, 2015, RosinaBloom from Waihi,
New Zealand (Zone 1) wrote:

Holly shrubs are dioecious, meaning that they require at least one separate male plant to be in close proximity to the female plants otherwise pollination will not occur. Both female and male plants produce small clusters of creamy, white flowers which are similar in appearance, but the males have more prominent stamens than the females do. Generally, all females produce berries. Males do not. If you find a plant with berries, its usually a female plant. This English holly is one of the most common with its familiar glossy, dark-green spiky leaves and bright red berries often seen at Christmas time.


On Nov 28, 2009, the1pony from (Pony) Lakewood, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Horribly invasive in the Pacific Northwest. Seedlings pop up everywhere, and they're next to impossible to get out without breaking off the looooong root. If you leave even a tiny piece behind, they come right back. Nasty prickly invaders of yards!


On May 3, 2005, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

Holly is an attractive easy plant. Make sure to water when establishing or plants may fail, which happened to me a few times.

Plants do well if planted in large groupings. More flowers and berries.

Mine are growing in part sun in sweet soil. The ones in the deeper shade have more and darker leaves than the ones in the most sun. The ones in the most sun have the most flowers and berries.

I haven't observed animals eating the berries but have seem baby birds sheltering and animals making burrows in the crowns of the plants.


On Jul 16, 2003, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

I garden in the Mid-Atlantic area of the U.S, and Holly truly does wear the crown! Evergreen leaves lovely all year, especially when covered by snow. Bright red berries of course. Cut branches make wonderful Christmas arrangements.

A superb plant for, and attractive to, wildlife; prickly leaves guard birds and small mammals, and berries provide food. Seems to prefer sun and acidic soil, however, very adaptable and easy to grow. May self-sow and create seedlings nearby. Seedlings are rare though, and not at all nuisance-like, give to a friend or keep for yourself.


On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Sun or partial shade. Needs protection from sun in hot, dry areas. For good fruit set a male shrub is needed. Over 200 cultivars! They may be grouped as non-variegated (green-leaved) or variegated.