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Overview

Brief Summary

Introduction

Ilex aquifolium is 1 of 400 holly species, and is one of a collection of species and hybrids known as English hollies.Its dark green leaves and red berries make it a popular house decoration winter, and for centuries it has been used to decorate houses and churches at Christmas.Holly has limited commercial use, although the dense, spiny foliage makes it an effective hedging plant.The wood is hard and creamy white and has been used for:
  • veneers
  • musical instruments
  • walking sticks
  • butter pats
  • a substitute for mahogany (stained black)
Holly berries are avidly eaten by birds, particularly members of the thrush family, but are mildly poisonous to humans, causing vomiting.
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Biology

Flowering occurs in May and June (2). Holly berries are a very important source of food for birds during winter (4), and birds assist in the dispersal of holly berries away from the parent tree (3). Holly may also spread by vegetative reproduction, by 'runners'; furthermore, the tips of branches that touch the ground may take root, forming a bower around the trunk of the tree, which may be used by animals (and children) as a shelter (3). Unsurprisingly there is a rich wealth of folklore and custom surrounding this tree (3); the amount of berries produced is used as a means of divining whether there will be a harsh winter. A widespread and firmly held belief around Britain is that it is extremely bad luck to cut down a whole holly tree, although somewhat paradoxically, it is permitted to cut branches to bring into the house during winter (3). This belief has often led to hollies being retained even when the entire hedge to which they once belonged was destroyed. In many farming areas, holly has been given to livestock as winter browse, and this practice continues today. Holly wood was used to make horsewhips for many years, as it was thought to have 'power over horses'. It was also believed to provide protection against fire (3). The most well-known holly-custom, however, is bringing boughs into the house in winter. Originally, holly was a fertility symbol because of the retention of the berries and shiny foliage throughout winter. It was also thought to protect a house from witchcraft and goblins. The pagan tradition of bringing holly indoors was accepted by Christianity; the spines of the leaves symbolising the crown of thorns, and the red berries representing the blood of Christ (3).
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Description

With its bright red berries (found only on female plants), and shiny evergreen leaves, the native holly tree has been a symbol of midwinter festivals since pre-Christian times (3). It grows as a shrub or tree, and has a narrow, conical crown and smooth silver-greyish bark (2). The fragrant male and female flowers are found on separate trees; they occur in clusters, and are white in colour (2). The dark green leaves are spiny, and have a waxy texture (4).
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Taxonomy

Holly forms a small evergreen tree or shrub up to 15m high, typically with a conical or cylindrical crown and the following features:
  • bark is smooth and often silvery grey
  • twigs are green
  • alternate leaves are 3–10cm long, oval, elliptical or oblong, thick and leathery in texture, dark, glossy green on the upper surface, paler green on the lower surface
  • leaf margins are usually wavy, with thickened and sharply spiny margins, but old trees often produce leaves with few if any spines
The trees are either male or female. In both sexes, the flowers are around 6mm in diameter and white, with 4 petals. They are borne in small clusters in the angles of leaf and twig on old wood - twigs more than one year old. Only the male flowers are fragrant.The berries, found only on female trees, are 7–12mm diameter, globose and scarlet when ripe. They contain 3 or more small stones.Ilex aquifolium and the closely related Ilex perado - native to the Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands - and Ilex platyphylla, also native to the Canary Islands, form a poorly-understood group.Collectively these species and their numerous varieties, cultivars and hybrids are often referred to as English hollies. Many of the varieties are very old and of uncertain origin. One of the earliest cultivars known is ‘hedgehog holly’, supposedly introduced into England from France in the late 17th century. One of the best-known hybrids is Highclere holly, Ilex x altaclarensis (Ilex aquifolium x Ilex perado), a tree which originated in the gardens of Highclere Castle, Hampshire, home of the Earls of Carnavon in about 1835.English hollies are extremely variable in shape, vigour and bark colour. They are also variable in the following ways:
  • variegated varieties may have leaves either edged or spotted with white, silver or gold
  • some varieties have very spiny leaves, others no spines at all
  • others produce yellow berries rather than the more common red berries
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Comprehensive Description

Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Western Ghats, Cultivated, Native of Eurasia"
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Folklore

The name holly comes from the Anglo-Saxon word holegn, for the tree used to decorate houses in winter. Much folklore surrounds the holly, but mainly the tree is associated with Christmas, featuring in cards and traditional carols, and being widely used as a Christmas decoration.In the UK this use seems to have originated in the Roman festival of Saturnalia in late December, later adopted by Christians. By the 15th century, holly boughs were being used to decorate churches at Christmas, often being bought in large quantities. It was also the evergreen of choice to decorate houses, and before the introduction of conifers, small hollies were used as indoor Christmas trees. This use persisted until the middle of the 20th century.Until recently, collecting wild holly for sale provided seasonal work for town dwellers who would spend a few weeks in the countryside cutting holly, in the same way that Londoners traditionally undertook hop-picking in Kent.Many of the beliefs about holly, even comparatively modern ones, relate directly to Christianity:
  • holly supposedly provided the timber for Jesus’ cross
  • the red berries apparently appeared after a nativity lamb was caught in a holly bush
  • holly berries were thought to represent the drops of blood caused by Christ’s crown of thorns and before this, the berries were yellow
  • the robin apparently obtained its red breast while eating the berries from the crown of thorns
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Biology

Holly is not particularly tolerant of cold, mainly because it has thin bark which provides only limited protection from frost - this limitation is so precise that the species’ presence or absence has been used to model prehistoric climates.It is tolerant of shade and often grows as a shrub in the understorey of woodlands, where it is better protected from the cold. These plants rarely flower.
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Southern Europe primarily.

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Tamil Nadu: Dindigul
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Range

Widespread and common throughout Britain. The holly is also widespread elsewhere, occurring throughout western and southern Europe and West Asia (2).
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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

Habit: Small tree or large shrub
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Ecology

Habitat

As the holly is very shade-tolerant it is able to live as an understory species in woodlands where other trees cannot survive (4); it is especially associated with beech and oak woodlands (2). Pure holly woods are unique to Britain, and are ecologically equivalent to the evergreen cloud forests of South America and China (3).
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Associations

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse or discrete colony of Anungitea dematiaceous anamorph of Anungitea fragilis is saprobic on dead litter of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 5-9

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Anungitea dematiaceous anamorph of Anungitea heterospora is saprobic on dead, fallen twig of Ilex aquifolium

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / pathogen
Armillaria mellea s.l. infects and damages Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / spot causer
epiphyllous, few pycnidium of Ascochyta coelomycetous anamorph of Ascochyta ilicis causes spots on live, mined leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 2

Foodplant / saprobe
hypostromatic hysterothecium of Aulographum hederae is saprobic on dead leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-7

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Auricularia auricula-judae is saprobic on wood of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
punctiform or effuse colony of Bispora dematiaceous anamorph of Bispora betulina is saprobic on dead wood of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Alysidium anamorph of Botryobasidium aureum is saprobic on rotten wood of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
Cylindrocladium anamorph of Calonectria ilicicola is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
Camarosporium coelomycetous anamorph of Camarosporium ilicis is saprobic on dead wood of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Camposporium dematiaceous anamorph of Camposporium cambrense is saprobic on rotten wood of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-12
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Camposporium dematiaceous anamorph of Camposporium pellucidum is saprobic on litter of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Campsosporium anamorph of Campsosporium cambrense is saprobic on dead wood of Ilex aquifolium

Plant / associate
stroma of Capronia nigerrima is associated with fungus-infected wood of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 9-4

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Ceratosporium dematiaceous anamorph of Ceratosporium fuscescens is saprobic on dead bark of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 2-6

Plant / associate
subiculate Oedemium dematiaceous anamorph of Chaetosphaerella fusca is associated with diatrypaceous fungus infested, fallen branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 9-2

Plant / associate
subiculate perithecium of Chaetosphaerella phaeostroma is associated with fungus infected, fallen branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 9-4

Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Catenularia dematiaceous anamorph of Chaetosphaeria cupulifera is saprobic on fallen, dead branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 12-6

Foodplant / saprobe
perithecium of Chaetosphaeria myriocarpa is saprobic on fallen, dead branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-12

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Chalara dematiaceous anamorph of Chalara bulbosa is saprobic on dead, fallen, rotting leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-2

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, numerous, gregarious pycnidium of Coleophoma coelomycetous anamorph of Coleophoma cylindrospora is saprobic on dead leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 4-5

Foodplant / saprobe
scattered, erumpent sporodochium of Coniosporium dematiaceous anamorph of Coniosporium ilicinum is saprobic on dead twig of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / spot causer
epiphyllous, immersed pycnidium of Coniothyrium coelomycetous anamorph of Coniothyrium ilicis causes spots on fading leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 3-7

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, solitary pycnidium of Coniothyrium coelomycetous anamorph of Coniothyrium slaptoniense is saprobic on dead twig of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 8

Foodplant / saprobe
velvety or spongy colony of Corynespora dematiaceous anamorph of Corynespora smithii is saprobic on dead bark of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 9-6

Plant / resting place / on
adult of Cryptocephalus pusillus may be found on Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 5-10

Foodplant / saprobe
sporodochium of Cryptocoryneum dematiaceous anamorph of Cryptocoryneum condensatum is saprobic on dead bark of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
subgregarious, conical, black, plurilocular stroma of Cytospora coelomycetous anamorph of Cytospora aquifolii is saprobic on dead, locally stained bark of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 3-4

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, pustular, erumpent, multilocular stroma of Cytospora coelomycetous anamorph of Cytospora ilicina is saprobic on dead stem of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Dactylaria dematiaceous anamorph of Dactylaria fusiformis is saprobic on decaying, dead leaf of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Dactylosporium dematiaceous anamorph of Dactylosporium macropus is saprobic on dead branch of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
bracket of Daedaleopsis confragosa is saprobic on dead wood of Ilex aquifolium
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Haplographium dematiaceous anamorph of Dematioscypha dematiicola is saprobic on dead branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-12

Foodplant / spot causer
numerous, subepidermal pycnidium of Dendrophoma coelomycetous anamorph of Dendrophoma phyllogena causes spots on live leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 5

Foodplant / saprobe
more or less scattered, or in 2's & 3's, long covered pycnidium of Phomopsis coelomycetous anamorph of Diaporthe crustosa is saprobic on dead twig of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 12-2

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, often loosely grouped perithecium of Diaporthe eres is saprobic on wood of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
erumpent stroma of Diaporthe ilicis is saprobic on dead twig of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed perithecium of Diaporthe pardalota is saprobic on dead wood of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-8

Foodplant / saprobe
stromatic, immersed perithecium of Diatrype stigma is saprobic on dead, decorticate or with bark rolling back branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-12

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Dictyochaeta dematiaceous anamorph of Dictyochaeta setosa is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, but raising epidermis pycnidium of Diplodia coelomycetous anamorph of Diplodia ilicicola is saprobic on twig of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 10-4

Foodplant / saprobe
resupinate fruitbody of Eichleriella deglubens is saprobic on fallen branch of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Endophragmiella dematiaceous anamorph of Endophragmiella ellisii is saprobic on dead wood of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 9-5

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed perithecium of Endoxyla cirrhosa is saprobic on rotten wood of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: good condition: 4-5

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Exidia nucleata is saprobic on dead, fallen, usually decorticate wood of Ilex aquifolium
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Exidia plana is saprobic on dead, fallen wood of Ilex aquifolium
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Exidia thuretiana is saprobic on dead, fallen wood of Ilex aquifolium
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Flammulina velutipes var. velutipes is saprobic on dead wood of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: mainly winter

Foodplant / saprobe
hysterothecium of Gloniopsis praelonga is saprobic on dead twig of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-12

Foodplant / saprobe
hysterothecium of Glonium lineare is saprobic on decorticate twig of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / parasite
fruitbody of Grifola frondosa parasitises live root of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / spot causer
often in concentric rings pycnidium of Phyllosticta coelomycetous anamorph of Guignardia philoprina causes spots on dead leaf of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Helminthosporium dematiaceous anamorph of Helminthosporium velutinum is saprobic on fallen, dead branch of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Henicospora dematiaceous anamorph of Henicospora minor is saprobic on dead leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 9-11

Plant / associate
effuse colony of Heteroconium anamorph of Heteroconium tetracoilum is associated with damp, rotten branch of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
superficial, hypophyllous perithecium of Hydropisphaera erubescens is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 10-4

Foodplant / saprobe
superficial perithecium of Lasiosphaeria ovina is saprobic on Armillaria mellea-decayed wood of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 9-4

Foodplant / saprobe
hypophyllous apothecium of Lophodermium neesii is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 6-8

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Marasmius hudsonii is saprobic on dead, fallen, decaying leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
superficial, often in very large clusters pseudothecium of Melanomma pulvis-pyrius is saprobic on dry, hard, decorticate branch wood of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 9-5

Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Menispora dematiaceous anamorph of Menispora ciliata is saprobic on dead wood of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Meripilus giganteus is saprobic on dead trunk (large) of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
pseudostroma of Microscypha enrhiza is saprobic on buried, dead, fallen leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 12-1

Foodplant / saprobe
amphigenous thyriothecium of Microthyrium ciliatum var. ciliatum is saprobic on skeletal leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 10-5

Foodplant / saprobe
mostly epiphyllous thyriothecium of Microthyrium microscopicum is saprobic on dead, fallen, rotting leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-12

Foodplant / saprobe
sessile apothecium of Mollisia cinerella is saprobic on dead, decorticate wood of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-8

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Mycocalia sphagneti is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
erumpent stroma of Nectria aquifolii is saprobic on dead, fallen branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-4

Foodplant / saprobe
sporodochium of Tubercularia anamorph of Nectria cinnabarina is saprobic on dead branch of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
erumpent stroma of Nectria coccinea is saprobic on dead trunk of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 9-5

Foodplant / pathogen
Nectria galligena infects and damages cankered branch of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
perithecium of Nectria peristomialis is saprobic on dead bark of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
superficial perithecium of Nectria pseudopeziza is saprobic on dead branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 9-4

Foodplant / saprobe
crowded, stromatic perithecium of Nectria punicea var. ilicis is saprobic on dying trunk of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 10-5

Foodplant / saprobe
perithecium of Nectria viridescens is saprobic on bark of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 9-5

Foodplant / saprobe
superficial, mostly epiphyllous perithecium of Niesslia ilicifolia is saprobic on dead leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 3-6

Foodplant / saprobe
perithecium of Nitschkia grevillei is saprobic on dead branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 10-3

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Oidiodendron anamorph of Oidiodendron flavum is saprobic on dead, fallen, rotting leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 12-1

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Pellidiscus pallidus is saprobic on dead, fallen, decayed leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
Periconia dematiaceous anamorph of Periconia cambrensis is saprobic on dead bark of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 8-4

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Periconiella dematiaceous anamorph of Periconiella ilicis is saprobic on dead leaf of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed stroma of Ceuthospora coelomycetous anamorph of Phacidium multivalve is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-4

Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Phaeostalagmus dematiaceous anamorph of Phaeostalagmus cyclosporus is saprobic on fallen, dead branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-12

Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Phaeostalagmus dematiaceous anamorph of Phaeostalagmus tenuissimus is saprobic on litter of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Phellinus ferruginosus is saprobic on dead wood of Ilex aquifolium
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
stalked, clustered basidiocarp of Phleogena faginea is saprobic on dead wood of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / feeds on
Phloeophagus gracilis feeds on dead or rotten wood of Ilex aquifolium

Plant / epiphyte
epiphyllous thallus of Phycopeltis arundinacea grows on live leaf of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / parasite
hypophyllous Phyllactinia guttata parasitises live leaf of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / spot causer
gregarious pycnidium of Phyllosticta coelomycetous anamorph of Phyllosticta aquifolina causes spots on live leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 4

Foodplant / spot causer
scattered or gregarious pycnidium of Phyllosticta coelomycetous anamorph of Phyllosticta haynaldi causes spots on live leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-5

Plant / resting place / within
puparium of Phytomyza ilicis may be found in leaf-mine of Ilex aquifolium
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / pathogen
Phytophthora ilicis infects and damages live, black-blotched leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Pleurotheciopsis dematiaceous anamorph of Pleurotheciopsis bramleyi is saprobic on fallen branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-12

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Pleurotus pulmonarius is saprobic on dead wood of Ilex aquifolium
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Pluteus petasatus is saprobic on dead, decayed stump (large) of Ilex aquifolium
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Pluteus phlebophorus is saprobic on dead, fallen, very decayed trunk (large) of Ilex aquifolium
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Pogonocherus hispidus feeds within dead twig of Ilex aquifolium
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Postia stiptica is saprobic on dead, decayed wood of Ilex aquifolium
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
apothecium of Proliferodiscus pulveraceus is saprobic on dead branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 6-9

Foodplant / saprobe
clumped fruitbody of Psathyrella cotonea is saprobic on dead, decayed, buried wood of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / sap sucker
hypophyllous Pulvinaria floccifera sucks sap of live leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed then erumpent, amphigenous, scattered pycnidium of Pyrenochaeta coelomycetous anamorph of Pyrenochaeta ilicis is saprobic on dead leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 10-5

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Resupinatus applicatus is saprobic on dead, decayed wood of Ilex aquifolium
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / feeds on
Rhopalomesites tardyi feeds on dead wood of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
superficial, scattered perithecium of Rosellinia mammiformis is saprobic on dead branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 5-9
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Schizophyllum commune is saprobic on dead, fallen wood of Ilex aquifolium
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Sporidesmium dematiaceous anamorph of Sporidesmium goidanichii is saprobic on dead leaf of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / spot causer
effuse colony of Sporidesmium dematiaceous anamorph of Sporidesmium ilicinum causes spots on dead twig of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / feeds on
hypophyllous, scattered or in 2's and 3's, black, covered pycnidium of Stagonospora coelomycetous anamorph of Stagonospora ilicis feeds on leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 4

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Pseudospiropes dematiaceous anamorph of Strossmayeria basitricha is saprobic on dead branch of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Subulispora dematiaceous anamorph of Subulispora britannica is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Trametes pubescens is saprobic on dead wood of Ilex aquifolium
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
stromatic, sometimes confluent sporodochium of Trimmatostroma dematiaceous anamorph of Trimmatostroma betulinum is saprobic on attached branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 2-5

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Triposporium dematiaceous anamorph of Triposporium elegans is saprobic on dead, often grey or purple stained twig of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 1-12

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, epiphyllous, opening by little pale lid apothecium of Trochila ilicina is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: esp. 12-2

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Tubaria dispersa is saprobic on buried, mummified berry of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: late spring, early autumn
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / feeds on
adult of Turdus viscivorus feeds on berry of Ilex aquifolium

Foodplant / saprobe
sclerotial fruitbody of Typhula phacorrhiza is saprobic on damp, dead, decayed leaf of litter of Ilex aquifolium
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
subgregarious to densely scattered, covered then erumpent, blackish grey with paler roundish flat disc stroma of Cytospora coelomycetous anamorph of Valsa ambiens is saprobic on dead stem of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 10-5

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, in groups of about 10 perithecium of Valsa ceratosperma is saprobic on branch of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 11-3

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, surrounded by pale halo perithecium of Vialaea insculpta is saprobic on long, drooping, attached twig of Ilex aquifolium
Remarks: season: 9-4

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In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / pathogen
Phytophthora ilicis infects and damages live, black-blotched leaf of Ilex aquifolium x perado (I. x altaclerensis)
Other: major host/prey

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Comments: Widespread throughout southern Europe, and into adjacent Asia.

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General Ecology

Distribution ecology

There are approximately 400 species of holly found in all regions of the world with the exception of the Arctic and Antarctic.Most holly species are trees or shrubs but some are climbers and others grow as epiphytes - plants which grow perched on other trees.There are deciduous species as well as evergreens.The leaves of several species contain caffeine and are used to make a stimulating tea. The best know is yerba maté, made from the leaves of Ilex paraguayensis.Ilex aquifolium is native to western and central Europe from Norway, Denmark and the UK, and south as far as the Mediterranean region, where it occurs mainly in cooler mountain areas.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Ilex aquifolium

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ilex aquifolium

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 12
Specimens with Barcodes: 24
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Widespread in southern Europe.

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Status

Widespread and common (2).
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Threats

This tree is not threatened.
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Management

Conservation

As this species is common and widespread, conservation action is not necessary.
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Wikipedia

Ilex aquifolium

Ilex aquifolium (holly, common holly, English holly, European holly, or occasionally Christmas holly), is a species of holly native to western and southern Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia.[1][2][3][4] I. aquifolium is the species familiar in Christmas decoration, and is regarded as the type species of the genus Ilex, which by association is also called "holly". It is a dioecious tree or shrub found, for example, in shady areas of forests of oak and in beech hedges. It has a great capacity to adapt to different conditions and is a pioneer species that repopulates the margins of forests or clearcuts.

As a tree, it can exceed 10 m in height. It is usually found as a shrub or a small tree about 1 m tall with a straight trunk and pyramidal crown, which branches from the base. It is slow growing and it does not usually fully mature due to grazing, cutting, or fire. It can live 500 years, but usually does not reach 100.

Description[edit]

European holly foliage with berries
European holly flowers; male above, female below (leaves cut to show flowers more clearly)

Holly is an evergreen tree growing to 10–25 m tall with a woody stem as large as 40–80 cm, rarely 1 m or more, in diameter The leaves are 5–12 cm long and 2–6 cm broad; they are evergreen, lasting about five years, and are dark green on the upper surface and lighter on the underside, oval, leathery, shiny, and about 5 to 9 cm long. In the young and in the lower limbs of mature trees, the leaves have three to five sharp spines on each side, pointing alternately upward and downward, while leaves of the upper branches in mature trees lack spines.[3][4]

The flowers are white, four-lobed, and pollinated by bees. Holly is dioecious, meaning that there are male plants and female plants. The sex cannot be determined until the plants begin flowering, usually between 4 and 12 years of age. In male specimens, the flowers are yellowish and appear in axillary groups. In the female, flowers are isolated or in groups of three and are small and white or slightly pink, and consist of four petals and four sepals partially fused at the base.

The fruit is a red drupe, about 6–10 mm in diameter, a bright red or bright yellow, which matures around October or November; at this time they are very bitter due to the ilicin content[5] and so are rarely eaten until late winter after frost has made them softer and more palatable. They are eaten by rodents, birds and larger herbivores. Each fruit contains 3 to 4 seeds which do not germinate until the second or third spring.[6] The fruit only appears on female plants, which require male plants nearby to fertilise them.

Distribution[edit]

Today, holly is found in western Asia and Europe in the undergrowth of oak forest and beech forest in particular, although at times it can form a dense thicket as the dominant species. It requires moist, shady environments, found within forests or in shady slopes, cliffs, and mountain gorges. [7][2][3][8]

During the Cenozoic Era, the Mediterranean region, Europe, and northwest Africa had a wetter climate and were largely covered by laurel forests. Holly was a typical representative species of this biome, where many current species of the genus Ilex were present. With the drying of the Mediterranean Basin during the Pliocene, the laurel forests gradually retreated, replaced by more drought-tolerant sclerophyll plant communities. The modern Ilex aquifolium resulted from this change. Most of the last remaining laurel forests around the Mediterranean are believed to have died out approximately 10,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene.

Ecology[edit]

Holly is a rugged pioneer species that preserves and enriches the soil facilitating colonization by others.[citation needed] It is an ecological indicator of a well-preserved or recovering area with little human intrusion.[citation needed] It prefers relatively moist areas, up to 600m in elevation, and tolerates Mediterranean summer drought and frost. The plant is common in the garrigue and maquis and is also found in deciduous forest and oak forest.

Pure stands of hollies can grow into a labyrinth of vaults in which thrushes and deer take refuge, while smaller birds are protected among their spiny leaves. After the first frost of the season, hollies' fruit becomes soft and falls to the ground serving as important food for winter birds at a time of scarce resources.

The flowers are attractive as nectar sources for insects such as bees, wasps, flies, and small butterflies.

It is an invasive species on the West Coast of the United States and Hawaii.[9][10]

Cultivation[edit]

Ilex aquifolium, the familiar holly of Christmas cards and wreaths, is widely grown in parks and gardens in temperate regions. Both male and female specimens must be grown together to ensure berries (drupes), which are produced only by female plants.[11] Numerous cultivars have been selected, of which the following have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit (RHS AGM):-

  • 'Golden Queen'[16]
  • 'Handsworth New Silver'[17]
  • 'J.C. van Tol'[18]
  • 'Madame Briot'[19]

The hybrid Ilex x altaclerensis was developed at Highclere Castle in 1835, a cross between I. aquifolium and the tender species I. perado. The following cultivars have gained the RHS AGM:-

Chemistry and toxicity, medicinal and food uses[edit]

Holly berries contain alkaloids, caffeine, and theobromine and are generally regarded as toxic to humans, though their poisonous properties are overstated and fatalities almost unknown. Accidental consumption may occur by children or pets attracted to the bright red berries. The berries are emetic. This is described as being due to the drug ilicin,[27] though caffeine and theobromine found throughout the plant are much more toxic, generally, to dogs and cats.

The leaves of related plants like Ilex vomitoria are used to make a caffeine-rich beverage, Yerba Mate, which has caffeine in amounts equal to that of coffee. It is likely that I. aquifolium has equal amounts of caffeine in the leaves. It is described "The leaves of Holly have been employed in the Black Forest as a substitute for tea"[28]

Holly is rarely used medicinally, but is diuretic, relieves fevers, and has a laxative action.[29]

Ilex aquifolium also contains saponins, theobromine (a xanthine), ilicin, caffeine, caffeic acid, and a yellow pigment, ilexanthin.[30] [31][32]

Other uses[edit]

Many hundreds of hybrids and cultivars have been developed for garden use, among them the very popular "Highclere holly", Ilex × altaclerensis (I. aquifolium × I. perado) and the "blue holly", Ilex × meserveae (I. aquifolium × I. rugosa).[33] Hollies are often used for hedges; the spiny leaves make them difficult to penetrate, and they take well to pruning and shaping.[34]

Between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries, before the introduction of turnips, Ilex aquifolium was cultivated for use as winter fodder for cattle and sheep.[28] Less spiny varieties of holly were preferred, and in practice the leaves growing near the top of the tree have far fewer spines making them more suitable for fodder.

Ilex aquifolium was once among the traditional woods for Great Highland bagpipes before tastes turned to imported dense tropical woods such as cocuswood, ebony, and African blackwood.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Flora Europaea: Ilex aquifolium
  2. ^ a b Med-Checklist: Ilex aquifolium
  3. ^ a b c Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  4. ^ a b Flora of NW Europe: Ilex aquifolium
  5. ^ Heinz, A. (1975). Drogenkunde. W. de Gruyter ISBN 3-13-566001-X
  6. ^ Peterken, G. F.; Lloyd, P. S. (November 1967). "Ilex aquifolium L.". Journal of Ecology 55 (3): 841–858. doi:10.2307/2258429. 
  7. ^ : Ilex aquifolium']
  8. ^ = 3088 Ilex aquifolium'
  9. ^ "Ilex aquifolium (English holly)". California Invasive Plant Council. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  10. ^ "English Holly - Ilex aquifolium". King County, Washington. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  11. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964. 
  12. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex aquifolium AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  13. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex aquifolium 'Amber' (f) AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  14. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex aquifolium 'Argentea Marginata' (f/v) AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  15. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex aquifolium 'Ferox Argentea' (m/v) AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  16. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex aquifolium 'Golden Queen' (m/v) AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  17. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex aquifolium 'Handsworth New Silver' (f/v) AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  18. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex aquifolium 'J.C. van Tol' (f) AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  19. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex aquifolium 'Madame Briot' (f/v) AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  20. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex aquifolium 'Myrtifolia Aurea Maculata' (m/v) AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  21. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex aquifolium 'Pyramidalis' (f) AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  22. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex aquifolium 'Silver Queen' (m/v) AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  23. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex × altaclerensis 'Belgica Aurea' (f/v) AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  24. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex × altaclerensis 'Camelliifolia' (f) AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  25. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex × altaclerensis 'Golden King' (f/v) AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  26. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Ilex × altaclerensis 'Lawsoniana' (f/v) AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  27. ^ Kress, Henriette. "Henriette's herbal". Henriette Kress. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  28. ^ Grieve. "Grieve Herbal". Grieve Herbal. Grieve. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  29. ^ Wren, R.C. (1988). Potter's New Cyclopedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. C.W. Daniel ISBN 0-85207-197-3.
  30. ^ Heinz, A. (1975). Drogenkunde. W. de Gruyter
  31. ^ Leikin, Jerrold Blair; Frank P. Paloucek (2002). Poisoning & Toxicology Handbook, Third Edition. Hudson, Ohio USA: Lexi-Comp Inc. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-930598-77-5. 
  32. ^ Turner, Nancy J.; P. von Aderkas (2009). The North American Guide to Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms. Timberpress. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-88192-929-4. 
  33. ^ Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  34. ^ Northumbria Police: Security starts at the Garden Gate
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