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Highclere Holly

Ilex x altaclerensis

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Aquifoliaceae (Holly)
Also in this family:
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 metres tall
Gardens, parks, roadsides, wasteland, woodland.

White, 4 petals
Clusters of white flowers. Pollinated by bees.
Orange or red berries.
An evergreen tree or shrub with tough, glossy leaves, each leaf being anything up to 10cm long. The edges of the leaves have a few spines but they are often spineless altogether.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Ilex x altaclerensis is a hybrid holly plant, a cross between the English holly (Ilex aquifolium) and the Madeira holly (Ilex perado). It is a large evergreen shrub or small tree that can grow up to 30 feet tall. The leaves are glossy and dark green, and the plant produces small white flowers in the spring. The red berries are a characteristic of the plant and they appear in fall and persist throughout the winter. This holly is very hardy and tolerant of many different soil types, making it a popular choice for gardens and landscaping in many regions. It is also known as "Golden King" or "Golden Queen" due to its golden variegated leaves.


Highclere Holly, also known as Ilex x altaclerensis, is a beautiful evergreen hybrid plant that is a cross between two holly species, the English Holly (Ilex aquifolium) and the Madeiran Holly (Ilex perado). This ornamental plant is widely grown for its glossy green foliage, striking red berries, and its ability to provide a natural privacy screen or hedge.

Appearance and Growth

Highclere Holly is a medium-sized tree that can grow up to 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide in ideal conditions. It has an upright, pyramidal shape with dense, glossy foliage and small white flowers that bloom in spring. The leaves are a glossy green color with spiny margins, and the bark is smooth and grayish-brown in color. In the fall, Highclere Holly produces bright red berries that are attractive to birds and add a pop of color to the landscape.

Cultivation and Maintenance

Highclere Holly is a relatively low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow in a variety of soil types and light conditions. It prefers well-draining soil and partial to full sun exposure, but it can tolerate some shade as well. Regular watering and fertilization during the growing season will help promote healthy growth and flowering.

Pruning is generally not required for Highclere Holly, but it can be shaped or trimmed as needed to maintain a desired size or shape. It is important to wear protective clothing when pruning, as the spiny leaves can be quite sharp.

Uses in Landscaping

Highclere Holly is a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of landscaping settings. Its dense foliage and natural growth habit make it an excellent choice for privacy screens, hedges, or windbreaks. It can also be used as a specimen tree or planted in groups for a striking visual effect.

In addition to its ornamental value, Highclere Holly is also beneficial for wildlife. The berries provide a valuable food source for birds, and the dense foliage provides shelter and nesting sites.

Highclere Holly is a beautiful and hardy plant that can add both aesthetic and ecological value to any landscape. With its glossy foliage, striking red berries, and easy maintenance requirements, it is a popular choice for homeowners and landscapers alike. Whether used as a privacy screen, hedge, or specimen tree, Highclere Holly is sure to impress with its beauty and versatility.

More Information

One of the unique features of Highclere Holly is that it is a hybrid plant, which means it is the result of cross-breeding two different species. This can sometimes result in plants that have superior traits, such as increased disease resistance or faster growth rates. In the case of Highclere Holly, the hybridization has resulted in a plant that combines the attractive features of both parent species.

English Holly, one of the parent species of Highclere Holly, is a popular ornamental plant in Europe and North America. It is well-known for its spiny leaves and bright red berries, which are commonly used for Christmas decorations. Madeiran Holly, the other parent species, is a tree that is native to the island of Madeira, off the coast of Portugal. It is a relatively rare species that is prized for its glossy, dark green leaves.

The hybridization of these two species has resulted in a plant that has the glossy foliage of Madeiran Holly and the spiny leaves and red berries of English Holly. This has made Highclere Holly a popular choice for homeowners and landscapers who want a plant that is both attractive and low-maintenance.

In addition to its ornamental value, Highclere Holly has some practical uses as well. The spiny leaves can be used to deter unwanted animals from entering a garden or yard, and the berries can be used to make jam or jelly.

Highclere Holly is a hardy plant that is relatively resistant to common pests and diseases that affect other types of holly. However, like all plants, it is not immune to problems. Some issues that may affect Highclere Holly include leaf spot, powdery mildew, and scale insects.

To prevent these issues, it is important to provide proper care for the plant. This includes regular watering and fertilization, as well as pruning to promote good air circulation and reduce the risk of disease. In addition, it is important to monitor the plant for any signs of problems and take action promptly if any issues are detected.

When it comes to pruning, it is best to do so in the late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This allows the plant to recover from pruning before the growing season begins. When pruning, it is important to use clean, sharp tools to avoid damaging the plant or spreading disease.

One of the benefits of Highclere Holly is that it is a relatively low-maintenance plant. It does not require a lot of special care, and can thrive in a variety of soil types and light conditions. However, it is important to choose a location that provides adequate sunlight and good drainage to ensure the plant grows and thrives as expected.

Overall, Highclere Holly is a beautiful and hardy plant that is a great addition to any landscape. With its glossy green foliage, bright red berries, and low-maintenance requirements, it is sure to provide years of enjoyment and beauty. Whether used as a privacy screen, hedge, or specimen tree, Highclere Holly is a great choice for anyone looking for an attractive and versatile plant.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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