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An evergreen shrub 8 to 10 ft, perhaps more high, of bushy, dense, rounded habit, and usually wider than high; young shoots glabrous, pale, and somewhat angular the first year. Leaves leathery, dark, glossy green, 11⁄2 to 4 in. long, 1 to 3 in. wide, of variable shape, but usually more or less rectangular, with four large spines at the corners; there is, in addition, always a terminal spine usually much decurved, and frequently one or two pairs of smaller spines at the sides. The number of spines therefore varies from five to nine, and they are rigid and needle-pointed; but on the upper branches of old specimens the spines are fewer or absent, as in the common holly; stalk 1⁄6 in. or less long. Flowers small, dull white, produced in axillary clusters in April. Fruits round, red, larger than in common holly, borne on a stalk 1⁄3 to 5⁄8 in. long. Bot. Mag., t. 5059.
Native of China and Korea; found by Fortune near Shanghai, and sent by him to Standish of Bagshot in 1846. It is still a rather uncommon plant, although quite hardy in the London district. Of comparatively slow growth, and of neat compact habit, it is suitable for positions where many evergreens would soon become too large. Its distinct and handsome foliage also makes it interesting, but it bears fruit only shyly.
There is a pair of specimens at Kew, one on either side of the Australian House, the larger 7 ft high and 12 ft across; in the garden of the Wood Museum there is a plant 10 ft high and 12 ft wide.
I. fortunei Lindl