Holly, do you really know all about it?

We associate holly or Ilex with Christmas. Both Romans and Celts already used holly for decoration during winter festivals. Did you know that it is the only evergreen deciduous tree native to these parts?

And did you also know that it is a favourite plant of the CEO of Meise Botanic Garden, Steven Dessein? If you look up in this room, you can see holly leaves on the ceiling... For both reasons, we decided to call this room Ilex.

Red berries and prickly leaves, that's what we think of when we think of holly.  However, there is a lot of variation in leaf shape and colour and even in colour of the berries. One species of holly, Ilex crenata, is even being used as a substitute for box since the appearance of the box tree moth.

Ilex is a poisonous plant, hence also well known to the Botanic Garden scientists. Their expertise is regularly called upon to identify plants with which there has been an accident. The red berries of the holly are attractive not only to adults but also to children. So beware!