Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article is about the plant type. For other uses see Holly (disambiguation).
Ilex aquifolium - European Holly
Ilex canariensis - Small-leaved Holly
Ilex cassine - Dahoon Holly
Ilex crenata - Japanese Holly
Ilex decidua - Possumhaw
Ilex dipyrena - Himalayan Holly
Ilex glabra - Gallberry , inkberry
Ilex latifolia - Tarajo Holly
Ilex montana - Mountain Holly
Ilex opaca - American Holly
Ilex paraguariensis - Yerba Mate
Ilex perado - Madeiran Holly
Ilex pernyi - Perny's Holly
Ilex serrata - Japanese Winterberry
Ilex verticillata - American Winterberry
Ilex vomitoria - Yaupon Holly
Hollies are plants in the genus Ilex. They are shrubs and trees from 2-25 m tall, with a wide distribution in Asia, Europe, north Africa, and North and South America. The leaves are simple, and can be either deciduous or evergreen depending on the species, and may be entire, finely toothed, or with widely-spaced, spine-tipped leaves. Hollies are mostly dioecious, with male and female flowers on different plants, with some exceptions. Pollination is mainly by bees and other insects. The fruit is a small berry, usually red when mature, with one to ten seeds.
Holly berries are mildly toxic and will cause vomiting and/or diarrhea when ingested by people (note the scientific name of the Yaupon Holly!). However they are extremely important food for numerous species of birds, and also are eaten by other wild animals. In the fall and early winter the berries are hard and apparently unpalatable. After being frozen or frosted several times, the berries soften, and become edible. During winter storms, birds often take refuge in hollies, which provide shelter, protection from predators (by the spiny leaves), and food. The flowers are sometimes eaten by the larva of the Double-striped Pug moth.
Many of the hollies are highly decorative, and are widely used as ornamental plants in gardens and parks. The wood is heavy, hard and white; one traditional use is (together with ebony) for chess pieces, with holly for the white pieces, and ebony for the black. Other uses include turnery, inlay work and as firewood. The South American I. paraguariensis is used to make yerba mate, a drink similar to tea.
- image from 'Flora von Deutschland Österreich und der Schweiz'
- holly at plants for a future
- pictures at CalPhotos
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