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Holly
Ilex-aquifolium (Europaeische Stechpalme-1.jpg
European Holly (Ilex aquifolium) leaves and fruit
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Angiosperms
Class: Eudicots
Order: Aquifoliales
Family: Aquifoliaceae
DC. ex A.Rich.
Genus: Ilex
L.
Species

About 600, see text

Holly (Ilex, ref>Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607</ref> is a genus of approximately 600 species of flowering plants in the family Aquifoliaceae, and the only living genus in that family.

Description and ecologyEdit

Holly berries are somewhat toxic to humans, though their poisonous properties are overstated and fatalities almost unknown.

They are extremely important food for numerous species of birds, and also are eaten by other wild animals. In the fall and early winter the berries are hard and apparently unpalatable. After being frozen or frosted several times, the berries soften, and become milder in taste. During winter storms, birds often take refuge in hollies, which provide shelter, protection from predators (by the spiny leaves), and food. The flowers are sometimes eaten by the larva of the Double-striped Pug moth (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata). Other Lepidoptera whose larvae feed on holly include Bucculatrix ilecella (which feeds exclusively on hollies) and The Engrailed (Ectropis crepuscularia). Holly is commonly referenced at Christmas time.

Having evolved numerous species that are endemic to islands and small mountain ranges, and being highly useful plants, many hollies are now becoming rare. Tropical species are especially often threatened by habitat destruction and overexploitation, and at least two have become extinct, with numerous others barely surviving.<

UsesEdit

VariegatedHollyBush

Trunk and leaves of a variegated holly bush.



Selected speciesEdit

Template:Col-1-of-3Template:Col-2-of-3Template:Col-3-of-3


ReferencesEdit

  1. Template:Cite paper
  2. Ulloa Ulloa & Jørgensen (1993), eFloras.org (2007a, b), IUCN (2007), RBGE (2007), USDA (2007a, b)

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