Woodland Trust

Nature's CalendarNature Detectives

Have you spotted the first flowering of elder yet?

Holly. Jurgen Howaldtholly

Ilex aquifolium


Why not download our holly fact sheet?

holly fact sheet

Evergreen shrub or small tree

  • Grows up to 10m tall
  • Numerous garden varieties
  • Tough, dark green, spiny leaves
  • Clusters of scarlet red berries

Fruits often stay on the bush over winter and are popular with birds

Where found

May form undergrowth in woods but is also found in woodland edges, hedges and scrub

When to look for

The leaves are evergreen

Fabulous holly facts

  • Holly provides birds with food, and with protection from winter storms and predators

  • It is one of the principal food plants for the holly blue caterpillar. The butterfly lays its eggs on holly in spring, and ivy in summer

  • Holly is the plant of the God Saturn, celebrated at the Feast of Sol Invictus on December 25th

  • Holly wood is used to make delicate instruments such as weather-gauges and barometers

  • It is also one of the fine woods used to make ornamental pieces known as Tunbridge Ware

  • Druids decorated their huts in winter with holly and ivy boughs to make them suitable abodes for sylvan spirits