Ilex aquifolium


Holly is one of our most familiar evergreen trees, its bright red berries and glossy leaves bringing colour and life into our gardens and homes in winter, and especially at Christmas (the berries and thorny leaves are said to symbolise Jesus's blood on the crown of thorns). Our wildlife enjoys holly, too: the berries are an important food source for many birds like Redwings and Fieldfares, and Mistle Thrushes guard their own berry-laden bushes with such voracity that they'll chase off any potential thieves. Holly can be found in a variety of habitats from remote woodland to urban gardens.

How to identify

Holly is easily recognised by the combination of its dark green, spiny evergreen leaves and its red berries which appear in early winter.

Where to find it



When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Our native tree species, such as Holly, provide important links in the food chain for many animals, as well as areas for shelter and nesting. Try planting native species in your garden and see who comes to visit... To find out more about wildlife-friendly gardening, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Ilex aquifolium
Trees and shrubs
Height: up to 10m
Conservation status