Also known as: European holly, Christmas holly, common holly
For many people, the glossy, dark green leaves and bright red berries of English holly are synonymous with the holiday season. While popular, this plant is not native to Oregon. In fact, it can quickly spread when planted in our region, shading out native plants and degrading our natural habitats. Not to mention its spiny leaves and berries can be toxic to humans, dogs, and cats.
|Early Detection and Rapid Response species:||No|
|Height:||Up to 80 feet (25 meters) tall|
|Leaf Description:||The top of the leaves are generally dark green with a dull, lighter green underside. They are glossy with sharp spines along their edges.|
|Fruit & Flower Description:||Small white flowers have four petals and a sweet scent. It is a dioecious plant meaning separate plants have male and female flowers.|
In the late summer and fall, it produces small, spherical, bright red berries that ripen October to November.
|Bloom Time:||May to June.|
- Grows in shaded forests, especially coniferous forests, where it remains shady year-round. It can also grow in full sun, especially along roadsides, yards, and wetland edges.
- Once English holly has established, its dense growth blocks sunlight from reaching the forest floor. This limits native plants’ ability to grow and create a healthy understoryUnderstory The layer of plants that exists closer to the ground under large trees..
- Holly develops a deep root system, which can prevent surrounding vegetation from accessing water.
What you can do about it:
- Pulling or digging up small holly trees or shrubs is easiest in the fall or winter when the ground is damp. Be sure to remove as much of the root as possible, as the plant will regrow from root fragments left in the soil.
- Make sure all plant materials are thrown away in a tied plastic bag in the trash – not the yard debris or home compost.
- Weed wrenches can assist with removing English holly. If you are in Washington County, we lend these tools for free from our tool library.
Tall Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) has similar looking leaves and can share the same stature as English holly. Observers often mistake the two species because of their appearance. Oregon grape is a Pacific Northwest native species and can be distinguished from holly by its flowers, which are yellow, and it’s berries, which are dark blue and ripen in late summer.
Noxious Weed Listing:
|State of Oregon:||Not listed|
|State of Washington:||Monitor|
Download the English Holly Best Management Practices Factsheet
- Pacific Northwest Weed Management Handbook: English holly
- University of California, Weed Research & Information Center: English holly