Large Glossy Leaves of Lusterleaf Holly Shine in any Landscape

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UT Gardens’ December 2022 Plant of the Month

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Hollies are versatile plants with a wide range of uses in the landscape. Perhaps my favorite species of this genus is Ilex latifolia, commonly called the lusterleaf holly.

From a distance, the leaves of Ilex latifolia are often mistaken for those of the Southern magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora. I recall the first time I saw a specimen of this plant. It was being used in a living screen, and I was about 30 yards away when I myself made this incorrect assumption! I was initially drawn to the large, flat leaves. They were wide at the base and tapered towards the tip, leathery in texture, and some were even larger than the size of my hand. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the plant’s heavy berry load. The berries, which were immature and green at that time, were forming in huge clusters nestled at the leaf axils (where the leaf attaches to the branch) and encircling the stem. As the season progressed into winter, the berries turned a deep, dull red and were visible from a great distance, which only added to this plant’s beauty.

Read more at the UT Gardens’ site.

The UT Gardens includes plant collections located in Knoxville, Crossville and Jackson, Tennessee. Designated as the official botanical garden for the State of Tennessee, the UT Gardens are part of the UT Institute of Agriculture. The Gardens’ mission is to foster appreciation, education and stewardship of plants through garden displays, educational programs and research trials. The Gardens are open during all seasons and free to the public.

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