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Holly

Plant

Ilex aquifolium

Holly is an excellent evergreen shrub for a wildlife garden. It has tough, prickly, glossy, dark green leaves and can grow into a relatively tall tree.

Male and female flowers are on separate shrubs; for a female shrub to produce berries, it must be pollinated by a male growing nearby. Holly appears frequently in folklore and is commonly associated with Christmas.

It grows in any soil and copes well with full sun or shade.

Animals that benefit

  • Bees and bumblebees collect its nectar and pollen.
  • Caterpillars of the holly blue butterfly eat its buds and flowers.
  • Many birds, such as thrushes, robins, dunnocks, finches and goldcrests, use it for nesting as it provides excellent protection.
  • Blackbirds, fieldfares, redwings, mistle and song thrushes, among others, eat the berries.
  • Hedgehogs, small mammals, toads and slow worms hibernate in the deep leaf litter that builds up beneath it.  

Vital statistics

Native: Yes
Flowers: Tiny, white, between May and July
Fruits: Red berries in late autumn

Calendar

Not seen in JanuaryNot seen in FebruaryNot seen in MarchNot seen in AprilNot seen in MayNot seen in JuneNot seen in JulyNot seen in AugustNot seen in SeptemberNot seen in OctoberNot seen in NovemberNot seen in December

Key to calendar

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Reptiles