Invasive Plant

English holly

Ilex aquifolium
Warning icon

Warning

English holly berries are toxic to humans and pets.

About This Species

English holly is known for its shiny red berries and dark green, spiny evergreen leaves. It is commonly used landscape ornamental often used for holiday decorations and floral arrangements. English holly has become a serious invasive because of its adaptability to grow in shade or sun, and how easy its seeds are spread by birds.

How to Identify

Leaves are thick, glossy, dark green and wavy, and 1-3 inches long, appearing alternately. They have sharp, stout spines along the edges, although leaves may be smooth on older branches. Flowers are small, white and sweetly scented. Female trees produce bunches of red, yellow or orange berries in winter that are poisonous to people but not to birds. Holly trees can range from 7 to 10m tall at maturity.

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Take Action

To remove small seedlings, pull them out by hand. To remove larger specimens, cut the tree at ground level and monitor for re-sprouting. If any suckers appear on or around the stump, cut them at the base immediately.

Plantwise

Plantwise

Learn about best practices

A few non-invasive alternatives to plant instead of English holly include:

  • Holly-leaved osmanthus (Osmanthus heterophyllus)
  • Red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa subsp. pubens)
  • Meserve holly (Ilex x meservae cvs.)
  • Tall mahonia (Berberis (Mahonia) aquilfolium)
  • San Jose holly (Ilex x aquipernyi)

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Identify

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