Species: Holly (Ilex aquifolium)

Family: Hollies (AQUIFOLIACEAE)

Category: Flowering Plants

Location: NW

A. Flowering Plants

More extensive information on flowering plants can be found in a separate blog post.

B. Hollies (AQUIFOLIACEAE)

The one member of this family native to the UK is the familiar small tree we know as Holly.

C. Holly (Ilex aquifolium)

Our native holly has white flowers on separate male and female trees, opening from May, the poisonous berries appearing only on the female trees of course. The prickly, leathery, dark green leaves are borne only on the lower branches, where they deter browsers. Holly is a slow-growing tree and its wood is hard, compact and even-grained, and much sought after for inlay work, as in Tunbridge ware, and by wood turners. It was used for mathematical instruments, walking sticks, whip handles, engravers' blocks, shuttles for hand-weavers' looms, and for flail swingers.

Holly has masculine symbolism in folklore, just as ivy has feminine symbolism, hence their intertwinement in wreaths to symbolise togetherness. People once thrashed themselves with holly in the belief that contagion would be driven out, a practice known as holming. Holly leaves are diaphoretic (promote sweating), and an infusion once used to treat catarrh, pleurisy, and smallpox.

Images

Holly

The prickly, leathery, dark green leaves of Holly are borne only on the lower branches, where they deter browsers.

Holly

Our native holly has white flowers on separate male and female trees, opening from May, the poisonous berries appearing only on the female trees of course.

Holly

Our native Holly has white flowers on separate male and female trees, opening from May. These turn increasing red as the calendar closes on November and December.