Flower of December: Holly

Table of Contents

What’s in a Name:

The common name of Holly comes from an earlier English name of Hollin. Its Latin genus Ilex, means “evergreen oak”. Holly was originally thought to be related to Oak due to the shape of its leaves.


Holly has been used as a holy plant in religious rituals around the world, from tribal to pagan to Christian, for many centuries. It was both displayed as a protection and consumed as a hallucinogen (a very risky move due to its toxicity) in a wide range of cultures. In modern times it remains popular for Christmas décor and is a top choice for year round interest in the landscape.


dignity, honor, protection, domestic happiness

Did You Know?

  • Holly was once planted around homes for protection from lightning.
  • Long ago, Holly was believed to assist with dream work.
  • The ancient Celts considered Holly a symbol of good luck.
  • Both a male and female Holly are needed in a landscape planting in order for berries to be produced.
  • Different species of Holly produce red, white or yellow berries.


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