Ilex crenata Thunb.

Japanese Holly, Boxleaf Holly

Leaves on cultivar Green Luster

Leaves on cultivar Green Luster


Family: Aquifoliaceae

Genus: Ilex

Category: Shrub - Evergreen

Zones: 5 to 8

Size: 5 to 10' tall and wide, depends on cultivar

Growth Rate: Slow

Exposure: Sun, Filtered Sun, Part Shade, Shade


Distinguish from Boxwood by leaf arrangement - alternate for Holly, opposite for Boxwood. Also marginal serrations. Smaller leaves than Ilex cornuta, duller surface and no spines. Oval to elliptical shape, Black dotted glands below. Margins scalloped (crenate) with 6 to 10 teeth per margin. Stems green for current year growth fading to gray-green to gray-brown. Inconspicuous flowers, blue-black berries on females. Rounded form, dense compact habit. Prefers light, moist, well-drained, slightly acid soil. May develop iron deficiency if the pH is too high. Northern plants more damaged by winter cold if planted in full sun.


Numerous cultivars:

'Compacta' - compact dense shrub to 6' tall and wide. Typical Japanese Holly leaf. Black berries. Vase shaped plant with more stems and less laterals than Ilex crenata 'Helleri' and with a slightly larger leaf (3/4").

'Kinme' - used for topiary in the UK - cloud formations in particular.


First published in Syst. Veg. (ed. 14) 168 in 1784.

Native to China, far eastern Russia, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Introduced to western gardens in around 1864.

'Crenata' = having the surface or margin cut into rounded scallops (crenate).


Sources of Information

© 2010-12 Lisa J. Miner