Max Coleman
British Wildlife 34.8 August 2023

Shapeshifting hollies: unnoticed change?

The hybridisation of holly trees has been largely overlooked and these hybrids are incredibly diverse in their appearance. Here, Max Coleman highlights the changes in hollies, speculates what this could mean for the native Common Holly and provides some helpful tips for the identification of hybrid species.

I first saw holly Ilex with unusually large, flat leaves at least 15 years ago, in Edinburgh’s Ravelston Wood. The trees were large and looked like the result of natural regeneration from bird-sown seed. At the time I knew that these plants were not native Common Holly I. aquifo­lium and I also knew why they looked the way they did.

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