|When we think of holly, we think of spiny, evergreen trees or shrubs with red berries. Some of the best hollies are deciduous, and some of these have berries that are not red. Deciduous hollies are great landscape plants. They are more cold-hardy than their evergreen relatives, and they work well in mass plantings or when used as specimens. Like all hollies, a male plant is needed to pollinate the female plants, or they won't bear fruit.|
Possumhaw holly, Ilex decidua, has an upright, spreading habit with an ultimate height of 30 feet in the wild, usually 20 feet under cultivation. It is native from Maryland to Florida and west to Texas and Mexico. American holly, Ilex opaca, is said to pollinate this species. There are several cultivars including the yellow-fruited ‘Byer’s Golden’. ‘Red Escort’ is considered one of the best male pollinators.
Common winterberry or black alder, Ilex verticillata, is one of the best-known species. Common winterberry has the most northerly distribution of all hollies in North America. Its abundant fruit persists into early spring and is favored by birds and squirrels. It grows six to ten feet in height with a similar spread and is very tolerant of wet soils. ‘Red Sprite’ is a compact, rounded form, which works well as a foundation planting. ‘Jim Dandy’ and ‘Southern Gentleman’ are male pollinators for this species.
Japanese winterberry, Ilex serrata, is native to Japan and China. It is similar to common winterberry, but has smaller fruits that develop color early, by the end of summer. In addition to red-fruited cultivars, ‘Leucocarpa’ is white or pale yellow fruited and ‘Xanthocarpa’ is yellow-fruited.
There are several hybrids of Ilex verticillata and Ilex serrata,
including ‘Sparkleberry’, a hybrid introduced by the U.S. National
Arboretum in 1960 [See our 'Sparkleberry' Fact Sheet].
It has an upright grow habit and can reach an ultimate height of 15 feet. ‘Apollo’,
the male pollinator for ‘Sparkleberry’, is also a U.S. National Arboretum introduction.
During the winter months, visit the Holly and Magnolia Collection to see the many cultivars of deciduous hollies and decide which one works best for your garden.
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Last Updated January 23, 2004 11:29 AM
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