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Article from New Trees by John Grimshaw & Ross Bayton
'Ilex rubra' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
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Small tree 4–10 m. Branchlets slightly pubescent. Leaves evergreen, thickly leathery, (2.5–)4.3–6(–7) × 1.6–3 cm, ovate to elliptic, upper surface glossy dark green, glabrous or minutely pubescent along the midrib, lower surface minutely pubescent, 6–10 secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins somewhat thickened and revolute, entire to serrate, rarely spinose, apex acute to acuminate; petiole thickened, puberulent, 0.3–0.7 cm. Inflorescences axillary, solitary. Flowers solitary or clustered, 4-merous. Fruit dark red, shiny and globose to subglobose, large for the genus, 0.7–0.9 cm diameter, with four pyrenes. Loesener 1901, Edwin 1964, Galle 1997. Distribution MEXICO: Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas. Habitat Coniferous forests, c.1000 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 7b. Conservation status Not evaluated.
This small holly is still rare in cultivation but it is represented in both North American and European gardens, and with its large fruits deserves to be more widely grown. It seems to have been first introduced by Yucca Do Nursery, Hempstead, Texas, in the early 1990s, from collections made in the San Carlos mountains, Tamaulipas. Material from this source is growing at the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley. The few examples known in the United Kingdom seem also to be derived from Yucca Do, including a dense 1.8 m shrub at Westonbirt (S. Andrews, pers. comm. 2007). A plant at Tregrehan is now 3 m tall and flourishing after a slow start (T. Hudson, pers. comm. 2007). It does well at Arboretum Trompenburg, where a specimen obtained from J.C. Raulston in 1994 is now 2 m tall (J. Van Meulder, pers. comm. 2007).