Ilex x altaclerensis ‘Golden King’

7 Jan

Ilex x altaclerensis 'Golden King' (07/12/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Ilex x altaclerensis ‘Golden King’ (07/12/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Flowering period: Late spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 6m

Eventual Spread: 4m

Hardiness: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b

Family: Aquifoliaceae

Ilex x altaclerensis ‘Golden King’ is an evergreen large shrub or small tree with a conical form. Its glossy leaves are aristate with entire margins (no spines as usually found on Holly), have irregular yellow margins with green centres, up to 8cm long and 4cm broad. Its white flowers are only female and will require a male plant nearby to produce berries. Its red/ brown fruit is a berry up to 1cm across.

Ilex x altaclerensis 'Golden King' Leaf (28/07/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Ilex x altaclerensis ‘Golden King’ Leaf (28/07/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Ilex x altaclerensis ‘Golden King’, commonly known as Golden King Holly, is a garden hybrid. It was developed at Highclere Castle in 1835 and is a cross between Ilex aquifolium and Ilex perado.

The etymological root of the binomial name Ilex is derived from the old Latin name for the Holly. Altaclerensis is derived from the Latin alta meaning ‘high’ and Clere, in reference to this plant’s provenance Highclere Castle.

The landscape architect may find Ilex x altaclerensis ‘Golden King’ useful as a colourful formal hedge or a specimen shrub, particularly for shady locations. It will tolerate maritime conditions and atmospheric pollution.

Ilex x altaclerensis 'Golden King' Fruit (07/12/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Ilex x altaclerensis ‘Golden King’ Fruit (07/12/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Ecologically, Ilex x altaclerensis ‘Golden King’ flowers are attractive to pollinating insects. The berries are attractive to numerous bird species.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Ilex x altaclerensis ‘Golden King’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Ilex x altaclerensis ‘Golden King’ prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Ilex x altaclerensis ‘Golden King’ requires little maintenance. If maintained as a hedge it should be pruned in late winter to early spring, before flowering.


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