Holly, evergreen deciduous tree native to southern and western Europe.

Also known as:
English holly
Common holly

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recognize holly
Holly, photo: Jürgen Howaldt - CC BY-SA 2.0 de
  • Berries and leaves are poisonous; but not for birds

Holly(Ilex), evergreen deciduous tree native to southern and western Europe. Found in beech and oak forests. Holly is a slow grower, eventually reaching about three meters in height. Holly reaches an average age of one hundred years. The tree blooms from May to June; red berries appear in the fall. Birds love it. Holly provides safe nesting habitat for birds.
Holly likes well-drained soil in a sunny spot. Part shade is also well tolerated, as is acidic soil. Holly can be planted as a hedge. Holly is hardy and tolerates snow well. Protect young plants from dry easterly winds for the first few years during frosts.
Holly tolerates pruning well: to keep the tree or shrub in shape (no bare branches at the bottom), regular pruning is necessary. Pruning in early spring.

In the United States, the American holly (Ilex opaca) is often used as a substitute for the English holly (Ilex aquifolium).


recognizing aphids on holly
Black aphids on holly, photo: PlantEnPlagen

Black aphids on leaves; leaves may curl due to the aphids sucking up plant juices: holly aphid (Aphis ilicis).

recognize damage to holly
Blisters on the holly leaf, photo: TeunSpanish – CC BY-SA 3.0

In winter, yellow/red blisters form next to the midrib of the leaf: holly leaf miner (Phytomiza ilicis)

Fungi & diseases

Holly is not very susceptible to fungi and diseases.


Because holly grows at the top of the tree or shrub and the old leaves at the bottom of the tree or shrub dry out and fall off, the tree or shrub becomes bare at the bottom. Regular pruning prevents this.