Botanical Name: Ilex cornuta
Common Names: Chinese holly or Horned holly
Ilex cornuta is native to the central and southeastern parts of China, Hainan, and Korea. Ilex cornuta was introduced to the United States and is currently considered invasive. It has been observed naturalized in the eastern United States, found most prominently in North Carolina, Alabama, and Kentucky.
It grows on ravines and hills, 150 – 600 metres. Wild places and alongside mountain paths in full sunshine.
Ilex cornuta is a broadleaf evergreen shrub that can grow up to 2.5 metres (8 ft) tall. It has been recorded as growing up to 7.6 metres (25 ft) tall. Leaves are rectangular that have 4 to 5 spines on the leaf margin. The glossy and leathery leaves are simple and alternate on the stem. Flowers begin to bloom during the early spring and are a dull white color and have a fragrance. The flowers produce red berries that ripen in early fall.
The bark is a light gray color and smooth. As it grows, the bark turns into a finely flaky appearance. The stem of Ilex cornuta is either green or a red to burgundy color depending on the season. The green stems turn slightly more red during the winter months.
Ilex cornuta is dioecious, meaning the flowers found on the shrub are either female or male. Male and female flowers are not found together on the same plant, so the plant is not self-fertile, it takes a male and a female plant to reproduce.
Landscape Uses:Border, Espalier, Pest tolerant, Screen, Standard, Specimen, Street tree. Succeeds in most soils that are not water-logged. Plants are hardy to about -15°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. A number of named forms have been developed for their ornamental value. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features:Not North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.
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.
Edible Uses: The fruit is thin-skinned with a sweet taste.The fruit is about 8 – 10mm in diameter.
The whole plant is abortifacient, carminative, contraceptive, febrifuge and tonic. It particularly strengthens the back and knees. The leaf is made into a tea which is said to be contraceptive if used by women and is also used for termination pregnancies. The stem bark is tonic. The whole plant is used in the treatment of arthritis, recurring fever in pulmonary tuberculosis, tubercular lymph nodes, joint pained and lumbago.
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.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.