Ilex x 'Nellie R. Stevens'

Nellie Stevens Holly

Leaf close up

Leaf close up


Family: Aquifoliaceae

Genus: Ilex

Category: Tree - Evergreen

Zones: 6 to 9

Size: 15 to 30' tall and wide

Growth Rate: Fast

Exposure: Sun, Filtered Sun


Natural pyramidal form, almost as wide at the base as the tree is tall. Dark green glossy leaves, terminal spine and 2 to 3 more on each margin. Red berries. Good heat tolerance, hence popular in the south.


Ilex cornuta x Ilex aquifolium. Developed in Maryland by Vida and Gustav Van Lennep from cuttings taken from trees which were originally raised from seed by Nellie Robinson Stevens at her home, Maplehurst, MD. Nellie had collected the seeds on a trip to the US Botanic Garden in Washington D.C. around 1900. Her niece, Eunice Highley, was about to remove the trees, but contacted the Van Lenneps first. The female tree was named for Nellie and the two others, both males, were named 'Edward J. Stevens' for Nellie's father and 'Maplehurst' for the garden. In 1967, the three hollies were registered with the American Holly Society. (Legends in the Garden)


My Experience: 

I purchased a 3-gallon plant in 2002 for planting at my old garden in North Carolina (18" tall and wide). I intended to use it as a screen. It grew quite rapidly, quickly overtaking a 15-gallon Ilex latifolia and a 7-gallon Ilex x attenuata planted at the same time. After 8 years it is 10' tall and 8' wide at the base.

Sources of Information

© 2010-12 Lisa J. Miner