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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 125. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/4/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 8/3/2009)


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1. Ilex L. (holly)

Plants dioecious, shrubs or small to medium-sized trees. Leaves alternate (in some species sometimes appearing fascicled on short spur shoots), simple, short-petiolate, the margins of the blades usually toothed. Flowers small, short-stalked, in small, axillary clusters, occasionally solitary, hypogynous. Calyx 4–8-lobed, persistent under the fruit. Corolla deeply 4–8-lobed (sometimes appearing as distinct petals), white to greenish white, the lobes rounded, spreading, the tips sometimes reflexed. Stamens 4–8, fused to the base of the corolla, the pistillate flowers with staminodes similar in appearance to stamens, but smaller. Pistil 1 per flower, of 2–5(–9) fused carpels, in staminate flowers reduced to a minute protuberance. Ovary superior, with 2–5(–9) locules. Style absent or minute. Stigma capitate to disk-shaped, often shallowly 2–5(–9)-lobed. Fruits berrylike drupes, globose, usually bright red at maturity (rarely yellow or brown), with 2–10 nutlets, each containing 1 seed in a hard coating, these more or less wedge-shaped, white to light yellow or light tan. About 400 species, nearly worldwide.

Most species of Ilex retain their mature fruits through the winter months and many species thus provide important winter food for birds. However, the berries reputedly are poisonous to humans (Steyermark, 1963). The leaves of several species have been used for teas.


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1 1. Tips of the leaf blades with a spine; margins of the leaf blades usually also with few to several spine-tipped teeth, less commonly entire ... 2. I. OPACA

Ilex opaca
2 1. Tips of the leaf blades spineless; margins of the leaf blades with several to numerous minute, spineless teeth, these sometimes gland-tipped

3 2. Tips of the leaf blades short-tapered to a sharp point; margins of the leaf blades with the teeth sharply pointed and straight to spreading (appearing saw-toothed); calyx lobes noticeably hairy along the margins ... 3. I. VERTICILLATA

Ilex verticillata
4 2. Tips of the leaf blades narrowed or short-tapered to a blunt point; margins of the leaf blades with the teeth incurved (appearing more or less scalloped and rounded or bluntly pointed); calyx lobes glabrous or minutely and inconspicuously hairy (the pubescence visible only with strong magnification of more than 10×)

5 3. Leaves deciduous, the blades relatively thin, herbaceous, oblanceolate to obovate in outline ... 1. I. DECIDUA

Ilex decidua
6 3. Leaves evergreen, the blades relatively thick, leathery, narrowly to broadly elliptic in outline ... 4. I. VOMITORIA Ilex vomitoria
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