Herbs & Plants

Ilex purpurea

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Botanical Name :Ilex purpurea
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Genus: Ilex
Kingdom: Plantae
: Aquifoliales
Species: I. purpurea
Synonyms : Ilex chinensis – Sims., Ilex oldhamii – Miq.
Common Name: Purple holly

Habitat : Asia – China, Japan.  Evergreen broad-leaf forests, forest margins on mountain slopes at elevations of 500 – 1000 metres in China.

Ilex purpurea is a species of holly, a flowering plant.It is an evergreen Tree growing to 12m.
It is hardy to zone 8. It is in leaf all year, in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from September to December. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Bees. The plant is not self-fertile.


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The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.


Succeeds in most soils so long as they are not water-logged. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. According to another report, the plant is only hardy to about -3°c. Resents root disturbance, especially as the plants get older. It is best to place the plants into their permanent positions as soon as possible, perhaps giving some winter protection for their first year or two. Plants are very tolerant of pruning and can be cut right back into old wood if required. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.


Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. It can take 18 months to germinate. Stored seed generally requires two winters and a summer before it will germinate and should be sown as soon as possible in a cold frame. Scarification, followed by a warm stratification and then a cold stratification may speed up the germination time. The seedlings are rather slow-growing. Pot them up into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame for their first year. It is possible to plant them out into a nursery bed in late spring of the following year, but they should not be left here for more than two years since they do not like being transplanted. Alternatively, grow them on in their pots for a second season and then plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Give them a good mulch and some protection for their first winter outdoors. Cuttings of almost ripe wood with a heel, August in a shaded position in a cold frame. Leave for 12 months before potting up. Layering in October. Takes 2 years.

Medicinal Uses
Cancer; Carminative; Skin; Tonic.
This plant is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs. It is reported to have antitumor properties. An extract of the leaves is made into a solution and used for treating burns, ulcers in the lower extremities etc. The ashes of the leaves are used as a dressing for skin ailments and poisoned wounds. Seed is carminative and tonic.

Determination of active ingredients of Ilex Purpurea Hassk and its medicinal preparations by capillary electrophoresis with electrochemical detection.
A method based on capillary electrophoresis with electrochemical detection has been developed for the separation and determination of isovanillic acid, gentisic acid, kaempferol, quercetin, caffeic acid and protocatechuic acid in Ilex Purpurea Hassk and its medicinal preparations for the first time. The effects of working electrode potential, pH and concentration of running buffer, separation voltage and injection time on CE-ED were investigated. Under the optimum conditions, the analytes could be separated in a 50 mmoll(-1) borate buffer (pH 9.0) within 21 min. A 300 microm diameter carbon disk electrode has a good response at +0.95 V (versus SCE) for all analytes. The response was linear over three orders of magnitude with detection limits (S/N=3) ranging from 3 x 10(-8) to 2 x 10(-7)gml(-1) for the analytes. The method has been successfully applied to the analysis of real sample, with satisfactory results.

Known Hazards:
Although no specific reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, the fruits of at least some members of this genus contain saponins and are slightly toxic. They can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and stupor if eaten in quantity.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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