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Ilex Holly

Ilex Holly

Ilex Holly

Vigorous and well-branched, Ilex 'Red Beauty' is a compact, upright, evergreen shrub of pyramidal habit with excellent year round interest. When pollinated by a male blue holly, it produces a profusion of attractive bright red berries from fall into winter. Extremely showy, they enliven the winter landscape and attract birds. The shiny foliage of small, spiny leaves remains dark green throughout the winter. 'Red Beauty' is a female plant and needs a male pollinator to produce the attractive red berries, such as 'Blue Prince', 'Blue Boy' or 'Blue Stallion' Noted for its heat and drought tolerance, Ilex cornuta 'Needlepoint' (Chinese Holly) is a pyramidal evergreen shrub or tree with a lustrous foliage of alternate, simple, dark green leaves, which holds all year. The leathery, slightly twisted leaves feature a large spine at their tips. Inconspicuous fragrant white flowers appear in spring. They attract bees and pollinating insects. The pollinated flowers give way to a heavy crop of bright red berries which ripen in fall and persist into winter.A very distinctive holly, Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil' is a slow growing, narrow, strongly columnar evergreen Japanese Holly with a shiny foliage of convex, dark green leaves, which holds all year. Small black fruits follow the tiny white flowers in late summer and fall. 'Sky Pencil' is a female cultivar which needs a male pollinator in order to produce fruit. Introduced by the US National Arboretum, its pencil-thin growth habit makes it perfect for small gardens.The genus is widespread throughout the temperate and subtropical regions of the world. It includes species of trees, shrubs, and climbers, with evergreen or deciduous foliage and inconspicuous flowers. Its range was more extended in the Tertiary period and many species are adapted to laurel forest habitats. It occurs from sea level to more than 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) with high mountain species. It is a genus of small, evergreen trees with smooth, glabrous, or pubescent branchlets. The plants are generally slow-growing with some species growing to 25 m (82 ft) tall. The type species is the European holly Ilex aquifolium described by Linnaeus.

They range in color from red to brown to black, and rarely green or yellow. The "bones" contain up to ten seeds each. Some species produce fruits parthenogenetically, such as the cultivar 'Nellie R. Stevens'. The fruits ripen in winter and thus provide winter colour contrast between the bright red of the fruits and the glossy green evergreen leaves. Hence the cut branches, especially of I. aquifolium, are widely used in Christmas decoration. The fruits are generally slightly toxic to humans, and can cause vomiting and diarrhea when ingested. However, they are an important food source for birds and other animals, which help disperse the seeds. Unfortunately this can have negative impacts as well. Along the west coast of North America, from California to British Columbia, English holly (Ilex aquifolium), which is grown commercially, is quickly spreading into native forest habitat, where it thrives in shade and crowds out native species. It has been placed on the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board's monitor list, and is a Class C invasive plant in Portland.The phylogeography of this group provides examples of various speciation mechanisms at work. In this scenario ancestors of this group became isolated from the remaining Ilex when the Earth mass broke away into Gondwana and Laurasia about 82 million years ago, resulting in a physical separation of the groups and beginning a process of change to adapt to new conditions. This mechanism is called allopatric speciation. Over time, survivor species of the holly genus adapted to different ecological niches. This led to reproductive isolation, an example of ecological speciation. In the Pliocene, around five million years ago, mountain formation diversified the landscape and provided new opportunities for speciation within the genus.They are extremely important food for numerous species of birds, and also are eaten by other wild animals. In the autumn and early winter the fruits are hard and apparently unpalatable. After being frozen or frosted several times, the fruits soften, and become milder in taste. 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 (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata). Other Lepidoptera whose larvae feed on holly include Bucculatrix ilecella, which feeds exclusively on hollies, and the engrailed (Ectropis crepuscularia). The attractive, evergreen foliage of the traditional Holly hedge plants (Ilex aquifolium) we supply, make striking hedges that provide constant cover throughout the year. Their distinctive appearance can be easily identified by their prickly, glossy green leaves that hold contrasting colours as their undersides show lighter tints of green with a soft texture, compared to the smooth, dark shaded top. Their seasonal interest starts in spring as small flowers produce and this showcases white colours and remain throughout summer. Red berries appear in Autumn which linger on the branches throughout winter. (Source: www.hedgesdirect.co.uk)

 

 

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