Ilex aquifolium ‘Silver Milkmaid’

8 Jan

Ilex aquifolium 'Silver Milkmaid' (07/12/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Ilex aquifolium ‘Silver Milkmaid’ (07/12/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun

Flowering period: Late spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 6m

Eventual Spread: 4m

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

Family: Aquifoliaceae

Ilex aquifolium ‘Silver Milkmaid’ is an evergreen shrub with an upright habit. Its glossy dark green leaves have cream coloured centres, are ovate with spiny margins, up to 6cm long and 4cm broad. Its bark is grey and smooth. This variety is a female form of Ilex and will not produce male pollen, a male Ilex aquifolium or variety will need to be in close proximity in order for this plant to produce berries. Its red fruit are berries, up to 7mm across and these persist on the plant through the winter months.

Ilex aquifolium 'Silver Milkmaid' Leaf (07/12/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Ilex aquifolium ‘Silver Milkmaid’ Leaf (07/12/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

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 ‘Silver Milkmaid’ is commonly known as Silver Milkmaid Holly.

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 ‘Silver Milkmaid’ useful as a specimen shrub with attractive winter fruit. It may also be grown as a formal hedge and effective barrier. It will tolerate maritime conditions and atmospheric pollution.

Ilex aquifolium 'Silver Milkmaid' Fruit (07/12/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Ilex aquifolium ‘Silver Milkmaid’ Fruit (07/12/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

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

Ilex aquifolium ‘Silver Milkmaid’ prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil. It dislikes wet soils.

Ilex aquifolium ‘Silver Milkmaid’ 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, but winter berries may be lost.

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