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A very common shrub of woodlands and hedgerows across Dorset


Holly: deck the halls with boughs

Post date: Friday, 4 November, 2016 - 21:01

The Dorset woods in autumn and winter are brightened by the bright red unmistakable berries of holly (Ilex aquifolium).  It is interesting that although holly is one of Britain's best known trees it is actually quite local occurring mainly in hedgerows and older, traditional forest and woods. It is tolerant of shade which means it can survive quite comfortably under other trees, especially ash and birch. The holly is also tolerant of clipping, and as it is evergreen, it is popular as a hedging plant. Another interesting feature is that only the lower leaves are prickly, presumably to give the plant protection against grazing. The upper leaves are often quite smooth edged. 

The holly is unusual in that there are male trees and female trees, although occasionally both forms of flower appear on one tree. Obviously the male trees do not bear berries, its sole purpose is to produce pollen that will fertilise the flowers on the female trees which is where the berries will ripen and appear. 
Holly was traditionally associated with ancient pre-Christian festivals but it has also become synonymous with Christmas and is a popular decoration as well as being mentioned in carols.

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Holly
Scientific Name Ilex aquifolium
Family Holly family - Aquifoliaceae
Status very common
Interest Level
Species Family Hedgerow Shrubs
Flower Colour Group White
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
Preferred Environment
Look for The unmistakable prickly leaf
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

This species is often found in these habitats:

Habitat(s) Relationship
W1: Broad-leaf Woodland Associated
SH: Hedgerow Scrub Associated