Holly, also called Ilex, is the name given to a family of about 600 species of flowing plants. Holly comes in varieties, from large trees to small shrubs and climbers. Most species are relatively slow growing and some species can reach 25 m (82 ft) tall. The best known variety is European holly, which is often used at Christmas as a decoration, especially on Christmas wreaths. This species features green leaves with red berries, which fits nicely with the colors of Christmas. Let’s find out where holly originates from and where it grows today.
Where does holly come from?
Holly is native to many of the temperate and subtropical areas of the world, although some species can even be found in the tropics. It grows from sea level and some species are capable of growing at more than 2,000 m (6,600 ft). Most species are found in the shady, moist locations within forests.
The best known holly plant, the European or Christmas holly, is found throughout southern and western Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia. It is commonly found in the undergrowth of beach or oak forests and grows best in moist, shady environments. Due to the popularity of this plant at Christmas, European holly has been spread to many regions outside of its range. This hasn’t always gone to plan and European holly has become an invasive species in Hawaii and on the West Coast of the United States.
Did you know?
If European holly is being grown for decorative purposes the male and female plants must be grown together to ensure berries will form.
Most species of Holly have small red berries, which are slightly poisonous to humans. These berries are toxic to pets and it is for this reason that any Holly decorations should be kept out of reach of children and pets.