Ilex aquifolium ‘Elegantissima’

8 Jan

Ilex aquifolium 'Elegantissima' (28/07/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Ilex aquifolium ‘Elegantissima’ (28/07/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Flowering period: Late spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 4m

Eventual Spread: 3m

Hardiness: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b

Family: Aquifoliaceae

Ilex aquifolium ‘Elegantissima’ is a slow growing, evergreen, large shrub or small tree with a pyramidal habit. Its glossy leaves are dark green with cream margins, ovate with spiny margins, up to 6cm long and 4cm broad  and variable in shape. Its young foliage is often tinged with pink margins.As the tree matures the new leaves have a tendency to not have spines and are entire. Its bark is grey and smooth. Its flowers are male only and will therefore not produce berries. It will pollinate female hollies which will produce berries.

The species Ilex aquifolium, commonly known as European Holly, English Holly or just Holly, is native to western and southern Europe (including the UK), northwest Africa and southwest Asia. Ilex aquifolium ‘Elegantissima’, commonly known as Elegantissima Holly, was produced in England in 1863.

The etymological root of the binomial name Ilex is derived from the old Latin name for the Holly. Aquifolium is derived from the Latin acus ’needle’ and floium ’leaf’, in reference to the pointed leaves.

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

Ecologically, Ilex aquifolium ‘Elegantissima’ flowers are attractive to pollinating insects. The canopy of this shrub forms an effective shelter for nesting birds.

Ilex aquifolium 'Elegantissima' Leaf (28/07/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Ilex aquifolium ‘Elegantissima’ Leaf (28/07/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Ilex aquifolium ‘Elegantissima’  prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Ilex aquifolium ‘Elegantissima’  requires little maintenance. If maintaining as a hedge it should be cut in late autumn to early spring. If necessary it may also be cut in mid summer.

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