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An evergreen shrub up to 12 or 15 ft high; young shoots covered with short down. Leaves leathery, ovate to oval, slender-pointed, spine-tipped, rounded to wedge-shaped at the base, spiny toothed, 1 to 2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 1 in. wide, dark dull green above, pale below, quite glabrous. Berries egg-shaped, 1⁄4 in. long, red, containing two stones; the berry is usually solitary in the axil of the leaves on a stalk 1⁄8 in. long.
Native of W. Szechwan, China; discovered by Wilson in 1904, introduced in 1908. This is a neat, small-leaved holly, erect and slender when small, and appears to be quite hardy at Kew. The specific name refers to the rather numerous, slender, forward-pointing teeth of the leaves, which are not particularly distinctive in this respect. It is considered to be related to I. dipyrena but is well distinguished by its much smaller stature, smaller, darker green leaves and round (not angular), more downy shoots.
It is hardy at Kew, where there is a multi-stemmed plant in the bed of I. verticillata, about 16 ft high.