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Ilex crenata - Japanese Holly

Ilex crenata is an evergreen plant native to Eastern China and Japan and is a perfect alternative to the more recently problematic Buxus.

The small leaves are rounded, dark green and glossy, very similar in appearance to Buxus, but can be identified by its alternate (not opposite) leaf arrangement and the crenate / toothed margin. Its resistance to pests and diseases, in particular blight, make it an ideal substitute. In late spring, it produces a delicate white flower followed in autumn by small insignificant black berries.

Japanese Holly grows well on all but heavy soils and makes a handsome topiary specimen. The evergreen and compact habit allows it to often be clipped into cones, balls, spirals, bonsai and hedges.

Ilex crenata Fastigiata is an upright columnar form of Japanese Holly. It can be clipped to keep it dense or left to grow as a specimen plant.

Japanese: イヌツゲ inutsuge.
Cloud pruning (see bonsai example in the gallery above) is a Japanese method of training trees or shrubs to resemble clouds. Known as Niwaki it translates as 'garden tree'.

Plant Profile

Name: Ilex crenata

Common Name: Japanese Holly

Family: Aquifoliaceae

Height: 3-5m

Demands: Will grow well on all but heavy soils

Foliage: Small rounded leaves, dark green and glossy with a crenate margin

Flower: Very small white flower in spring

Fruit: Small, insignificant berries follow the flowers, ripening black in autumn.

Ilex crenata info sheet

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