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English Holly

Articles: English Holly

Is this traditional holiday favorite a wildlife-friendly, landscape and economic resource or a threat to Pacific Northwest native forests? Photo: Andrea Watts

[pullquote]English holly is a versatile, hardy plant combining year-round beauty and wildlife appeal. But when it escapes cultivation it can become an uninvited pest.[/pullquote]

My first encounter with English holly (Ilex aquifolium) was making holiday decorations in elementary school. Nearly 20 years later, I encountered the plant again as a restoration volunteer with the City of Seattle working to remove invasive plants from parks and greenbelts. Himalayan and evergreen blackberry (Rubus sp.), English ivy (Hedera helix), and English holly were removed and replaced with native sword ferns (Polystichum munitum), salal (Galtheria shallon), and Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium).

When visiting my parent’s property in rural Grays Harbor County, I was surprised to find English holly among the second growth Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) forest; these plants were volunteer offspring of an old tree planted on ...

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