Ilex cornuta Lindl.

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

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'Ilex cornuta' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2020-09-18.


Common Names

  • Horned Holly


Situated in an axil.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Ilex cornuta' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2020-09-18.

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, 112 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 16 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 13 to 58 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.


Leaves with a terminal spine, otherwise entire or almost so. Free-fruiting. A handsome evergreen raised in the USA.

var. fortunei (Lindl.) Hu

I. fortunei Lindl

According to Dr S.-Y. Hu, in her monograph on Chinese hollies, the essential difference between this variety and the type is that the branches of the male inflorescence each bear three flowers and that the fruit-stalks are longer ({1/2} to {3/4} in. long). Introduced by Fortune to Glendinning’s nursery, Turnham Green, in 1853, but possibly also in cultivation from seeds collected by Wilson in W. Hupeh. This variety is as variable in leaf as the type. According to Lindley the plants from Fortune’s seeds had the appearance of ‘a very broad-leaved, entire-leaved European Holly’, but in the plants found by Wilson the leaves were spinose (Hu in Journ. Arn. Arb., Vol. 30 (1949), pp. 356-7; Lindley in Gard. Chron. (1857), p. 868).The following hybrids of I. cornuta were raised in the USA and are available in commerce in Britain:I. (cornuta × pernyi). – Here belong ‘John T. Morris’, of dense vigorous habit with leaves intermediate between those of the parents; and ‘Lydia Morris’, of more open habit, nearer to I. pernyi.I. (aquifolium × cornuta) ‘Nellie Stevens’. – Leaves bullate, slightly glossy, with two or three teeth on each side. Free-fruiting.


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