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I Have Two Questions, Almost Related. I Heard There Were…

Daniel Asked

I have two questions, almost related. I heard there were like over 400 different types of hollies. What site can I go to that lists all the specimens? My other question, is there a such plant called the “red holly?” It was mentioned on a fine gardening article Web site, so I was wondering if red holly was a type of holly, and are the leaves red? If not, why do they call it red holly?

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The Gardener’s Answer

Hello, Daniel in Maryland: Ilex (holly) is a very large genus and when you take into consideration all of the species, cultivars, varieties, and hybrids within this genus, there are well over 400 of them. This group of plants is very diverse in terms of growth habit, foliage shape, and mature size. Some hollies are very large specimens while others are smaller shrubs; some are evergreens and others are deciduous. The red holly hybrids are seedling selections of ‘Mary Nell,’ which is a second generation cross. ‘Mary Nell’ is a combination of three different hollies. I will spare you the taxonomical details but yes, the red holly hybrids all have new growth that is red in color, which is why they are called red hollies. For a comprised list of all of the plants in the ilex genus you should go to your local library and check out Manual of Woody Landscape Plants written by Michael A. Dirr. This is the reference book that horticulturists turn to when they have questions.

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