Ilex × altaclarensis [Loud.] Dallim.
Synonyms: I. aquifolium var. altaclerense Loud.; I. perado Hort., not Ait.; I. maderensis Hort., not Lam.
A group of hybrids between I. aquifolium and I. perado (or its var. platyphylla), to which belong some of the finest of hardy evergreen small trees and shrubs. The early history of the group is not known for certain, but I. perado was originally grown in greenhouses for its decorative fruits, and the first-generation hybrids were probably raised from these female plants, fertilised deliberately or accidentally by pollen of the common holly. The fact that some of the early hybrids were named as varieties of I. perado or I. maderensis (a synonym of I. perado) suggests that this species was the seed-parent of the original crosses. Once these first-generation hybrids, which are hardy, had become established in gardens, back-crosses would have been raised from females such as ‘Hendersonii’, pollinated by the common holly, and certainly some of the hybrids are the result of deliberate crossing. In this way a diverse assemblage of hollies has arisen, and the boundary between I. × altaclarensis and I. aquifolium has become rather blurred. But the majority of the group are easily enough distinguished from the common holly by their larger leaves, flowers, and fruits, and by their great vigour and robustness.
‘Altaclarensis’. – This cultivar name, or ‘Highclere’, would belong to the holly, assumed to be a hybrid, that was distributed by Loddiges’ nursery and described by Loudon as having ‘Leaves broad, thin and flat’ (Arb. et Frut. Brit. (1838), Vol. 2, p. 507). Whether this clone is still in cultivation it is impossible to say. The holly described by Dallimore under the name I. altaclarense was said by him to be a male similar to ‘Hodginsii’, and the tree at Kew which is believed to be the one he had in mind is scarcely distinguishable from ‘Hodginsii’, if at all.
“Balearica”. – Some of the hollies once in the trade as I. aq. balearica appear to have been hybrids similar to “Maderensis”, but the specimens which Moore put under this name are not uniform, and one, received from the Lawson Company as I. aq. hodginsii, is clearly ‘Hendersonii’. The old clone to which the name I. aq. balearica originally belonged may have been a hybrid, but it was accepted by Loesener as a variant of the true Balearic holly and is further discussed under I. aq. var. balearica.
‘Belgica Aurea’. – Leaves quite flat, ovate-lanceolate to almost elliptic, 31⁄4 to 4 in. long, 11⁄2 to 13⁄4 in. wide, edged with pale yellow; centre rich green shading to grey-green; margins with a variable number of slender spine-teeth, some leaves entire. Female. A very handsome holly raised in Holland by Koster and Son and first shown by them in 1908. It was originally distributed under the erroneous name “I. perado aurea” (Dendroflora, No. 8, p. 30).
‘Camelliifolia’. – Young wood, petioles, and base of midrib beneath purplish. Leaves dark burnished green, oblong, the largest 5 in. long, 2 in. wide, mostly without spines but a few with one to eight spines. Female, with rather large, dark red berries. It makes a fine specimen. In Marnockii’ the leaves are of similar outline and toothing, but curiously twisted just above the middle. Also female.
‘Golden King’. – A sport from ‘Hendersonii’ having the leaves margined with rich gold. Like the parent it is female, and has leaves of similar shape. The sport occurred at the Bangholm nursery of the Lawson Company shortly before 1876. At the dissolution sale of that famous Scottish nursery, which took place in 1888, the entire stock including the mother plant was bought by Little and Ballantyne, and it was they who named it ‘Golden King’. The Lawson Company was one of the many nurseries who used the name I. aquifolium hodginsii for what is now called ‘Hendersonii’ and they originally named the sport I. aq. hodginsii aurea. ‘Golden King’ appears to be the same as the holly which Dallimore called ‘King Edward VII’.
‘Hendersonii’. – Leaves mostly oblong-elliptic, with a well-marked ‘shoulder’, rather dull green above, with the lateral veins impressed, the margins entire or with a few scattered spines. A female, with large fruits, not very freely borne. This holly was raised by Thomas Hodgins, nurseryman of Dunganstown, Ireland, early in the 19th century. The Lawson Company of Edinburgh appear to have received scions direct from Hodgins and distributed this holly, as did some other nurserymen, under the name I. aquifolium hodginsii, but the cultivar-name ‘Hodginsii’ (q.v.) is now used for another quite different hybrid holly also raised by Hodgins. The now established name ‘Hendersonii’ starts in the catalogue of the Handsworth nursery of Fisher and Holmes (later Fisher, Son, and Sibray), who received propagating material from Shepherd, Curator of the Liverpool Botanic Garden, and named their stock after a friend of Shepherd (Elwes and Henry, Tr. Gt. Brit. & Irel., Vol. 7, p. 1714). The fact that Hodgins raised two hybrid hollies, both of which were named after him by one or another nurseryman, has been the cause of much confusion, though William Paul called attention to it as early as 1863.
‘Hendersonii’ is a vigorous holly of which there is a large specimen at Kew with a stout trunk and about 40 ft high. But in its foliage it is inferior to many other members of the Altaclarensis group. Its chief claim to fame is that it is the parent by sporting of ‘Lawsoniana’ and ‘Golden King’.
‘Hodginsii’. – Young stems purplish. Leaves broad-ovate or broad-elliptic, 3 to 4 in. long, 21⁄4 in. wide, broadly cuneate, rounded or truncate at the base, deep sea-green, with large, rather distant, triangular teeth; on old plants the teeth are mainly confined to the apical part of the leaf, and some leaves are entire. Male. This holly was raised by the nurseryman Thomas Hodgins of Dunganstown, Ireland, who, some time before 1836, sent it to Shepherd, curator of the Liverpool Botanic Garden. The Handsworth nursery of Fisher and Holmes received propagating material from there and distributed this holly as I. aquifolium shepherdii. But other nurserymen called it after its raiser, and ‘Hodginsii’ is now the established name for it (Elwes and Henry, Tr. Gt. Br. & Irel., Vol. 7, p. 1713). See further under ‘Hendersonii’.
‘Hodginsii’ soon became common in the industrial Midlands because of its ability to withstand a heavily polluted atmosphere. But even under normal conditions it is a valuable evergreen, making a fine pyramidal specimen up to 50 ft high.
‘Lawsoniana’. – Leaves dull dark green at the edge, with a central variegation of gold and brighter green. A sport from ‘Hendersonii’, raised by the Lawson Company, Edinburgh, shortly before 1869. Unfortunately it is very apt to sport back to the green-leaved parent.
“Maderensis”. – I. maderensis Lamarck is a synonym of I. perado, the Madeira holly, but in gardens the name came to be used for hybrids, probably seedlings of the true I. perado. Moore’s description is based on specimens from a number of nurseries and judging by the leaves from these preserved at Kew, they may have represented a single clone. Leaves plane, ovate or ovate-oblong, short-acuminate 3 to 31⁄2 in. long, about 13⁄4 in. wide, fairly regularly edged with slender spines lying in the plane of the leaf and pointing forward. According to Dallimore, this variety is male. In ‘Maderensis Variegata’ the leaves have a central variegation of gold and bright green.
‘Mundyi’. – Largest leaves 4 in. by 21⁄2 in., dullish green, oval or roundish oval, the margins set regularly with slender spines, the surface rugose. Male. Another hybrid holly of similar character, also male, is ‘Atkinsonii’. This has larger, very rugose leaves of a deeper green, up to 41⁄2 in. long, 21⁄4 in. wide, with somewhat larger spines. Both are in the Kew collection.
‘Nigrescens’. – Stems purplish green. Leaves not undulate, ovate to broad elliptic, 3 in. long, 21⁄4 to 21⁄2 in. wide, entire or occasionally with regular, forward-pointing teeth. There is a fine specimen at Kew about 35 ft high with a stout trunk. This, like other similar specimens in the collection, is male, but there is reason to believe that the original ‘Nigrescens’ was female.
‘Nobilis’. – According to Moore’s description and specimen this is very similar to ‘Hodginsii’, but with the leaves more strongly toothed. The two varieties may have become confused, for the firm William Barron and Son of Derby said in their catalogue for 1875 that their I. aq. nobilis was the same as what other nurserymen were selling as hodginsii. There are male plants at Westonbirt, Glos., which may belong to this variety; the leaves are darker than in ‘Hodginsii’.
“Platyphylla”. – The epithet platyphylla seems to have been applied to various hybrid hollies of the altaclarensis group, some male, some female. They have been confused with the Canary Island holly I. perado var. platyphylla, of which they may have been seedlings. This confusion, remarked on by Goeppert well over a century ago, still persists. These hybrids are probably first-generation crosses, with flattish, broad-ovate or broad-elliptic, shortly spine-toothed leaves.
‘Shepherdii’. – The holly distributed by the Handsworth nursery under the name I. aq. shepherdii is ‘Hodginsii’ (q.v.). The holly sold by the Knap Hill nursery under the same name was quite different. Judging from Moore’s description it was similar to ‘Maderensis’, but with longer spines. It is no longer grown at Knap Hill.
‘Wilsonii’. – Branchlets green. Leaves broad-elliptic or obovate, up to 51⁄4 in. long, 3 in. wide, rich fairly glossy green and slightly concave above, with conspicuous lighter green veins which are raised on the underside, margins slightly wavy or flat, with scattered forward-pointing teeth. Female. A very handsome holly, attaining a height of 30 ft or more, raised at the Handsworth nursery. F.C.C. 1899. On old trees some of the leaves are quite entire. Henry suggests that this is a renaming of the variety which the Handsworth nursery originally called I. aq. princeps, of which the parentage was given as I. a. nigrescens pollinated by a male seedling from balearica, which seems very probable (Tr. Gt. Brit. & Irel., Vol. 7, p. 1713; Gard. Chron., Vol. 13 (2nd series), p. 45). The name is believed to commemorate G. F. Wilson, who presented the Wisley property to The Royal Horticultural Society.
‘W. J. Bean’. – A slow-growing female variety, free-fruiting, which inclines to the common holly in its rather small, strongly undulated and spiny leaves. It was raised by the Handsworth nurseries and the plant at Kew was received from them in 1929.
From the Supplement (Vol. V)
The above is the correct spelling of the hybrid epithet, not altaclerensis, as has been suggested. It is immaterial that Loudon used the latter spelling when mentioning the Highclere holly as a variety of I. aquifolium.
An important survey of the clones of I. × altaclarensis by Susyn Andrews of the Kew Herbarium appears in The Plantsman Vol.5 (2), pp. 65-81 (1983) and Vol. 6 (3), pp. 157-66 (1984), with drawings and a painting by Joanna Langhorne.
’Balearica’. – This name is accepted by Susyn Andrews for the hybrid holly mentioned. It is still in cultivation and very vigorous. Female. A sport from this was named ‘Purple Shaft’ by Messrs Hillier in 1965. It is as vigorous as the original, with dark purple young shoots.
† ‘Belgica’. – This is the clone once wrongly grown as I. perado. It is free-fruiting, with orange-red berries (Dendroflora No. 8, p. 30).
’Belgica Aurea’. – This is the correct cultivar name, not ‘Silver Sentinel’, a later renaming. Although female, it does not fruit freely.
’Camelliifolia’. – This has reached 44 × 33⁄4 ft (thickest stem) at Sutton Place, Surrey (1983). There is a sport of this – ‘Camelliifolia Variegata’ – in which the leaves have a yellowish green margin.
’Hendersonii’. – For the name of the raiser, see under ‘Hodginsii’ below. There are two examples at Westonbirt, Gloucestershire, in Main Drive, measuring 66 × 31⁄4 ft (1979) and 60 × 31⁄2 ft (1980).
There is a variegated sport from ‘Hendersonii’ in which the margins of the leaves are creamy white and somewhat recurved. Only two mature specimens have been recorded, one at Howick in Northumberland and the other in the Edinburgh Botanic Garden. It has been named, ‘Howick’ (Susyn Andrews, op. cit., Pt 1, p. 70).
’Hodginsii’. – The raiser of this holly, and of ‘Hendersonii’, bore the Christian name Edward, not Thomas as stated (Susyn Andrews, op. cit., Pt 1, pp. 70, 71). According to Loudon, who refers to him simply as Mr Hodgins, his Dunganstown nursery was founded about 1780. He was still ‘healthy and vigorous’ in 1835 (Arb. et Frut. Brit., Vol. I, p. 116 (1838)).
specimens: Kew, by Holly Walk, 60 × 41⁄2 ft (1982); Westonbirt House, Glos., 66 × 5 ft (1982); Westonbirt (Arboretum) in Wigmore Drive, 46 × 5 ft (1980); Tortworth, Glos., 52 × 41⁄4 ft (1980); Killerton, Devon, 58 × 5 ft (1980); Coleton Fishacre, Devon, pl. 1925, 52 × 33⁄4 ft (1979); Ballamoar, Isle of Man, 72 × 51⁄4 ft (1978).
’Maderensis’. – This is accepted by Susyn Andrews as the cultivar name for the clone mentioned. It is the male counterpart of ‘Balearica’. She considers that what is in the trade as ‘Maderensis Variegata’ belongs to I. aquifolium.
† ‘Jermyns’. – Leaves glossy, almost spineless; stems green. A vigorous male clone, recommended for hedging (Hilliers’ Manual, p. 154; Susyn Andrews, op. cit., Pt 2, p. 161).
’Wilsonii’. – The suggestion that the name commemorates G. F. Wilson is incorrect. It was probably named after a foreman in the Fisher, Son and Sibray nurseries (Susyn Andrews, op. cit., Pt 1, p. 75).