Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Ilex Aquifolium ‘Pendula’

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Ilex aquifolium 'Pendula' (06/01/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Ilex aquifolium ‘Pendula’ (06/01/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to shade

Flowering period: Late spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 4m

Eventual Spread: 3.5m

Hardiness: 6a – 10b

Family: Aquifoliaceae

Ilex aquifolium ‘Pendula’ is a slow growing evergreen weeping small tree or large shrub. Its dark green, shiny, leathery leaves are ovate with spiny margins, up to 9cm long and 5cm broad. As the tree matures the new leaves have a tendency to not have spines and are entire. Its branches are weeping and are grafted onto an Ilex aquifolium rootstock, giving this tree a weeping habit. Its flowers are dioecious, white, four lobed, cross shaped and are arranged in cymes. Its fruit is a bright red drupe, up to 1cm across and persists throughout the winter months.

The species Ilex aquifolium, commonly known as Holly, is native to to western and southern Europe (including the UK), northwest Africa and southwest Asia.  Ilex aquifolium ‘Pendula’ is commonly know as Weeping Holly.

The etymological root of the binomial name Ilex is derived from the old Latin name for the Holly. Aquifolium is derived from the Latin acus meaning ’needle’ and floium meaning ’leaf’, in reference to the pointed leaves. Pendula is derived from the Latin pendeo meaning ‘to hang’.

The landscape architect may find Ilex aquifolium ‘Pendula’ useful as an unusual evergreen specimen tree.

Ecologically, Ilex aquifolium ‘Pendula’ flowers are attractive to pollinating insects. The berries are attractive to numerous bird species. The canopy of this shrub forms an effective shelter for nesting birds.

Ilex aquifolium 'Pendula' Leaf and Berry (06/01/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Ilex aquifolium ‘Pendula’ Leaf and Berry (06/01/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Ilex aquifolium ‘Pendula’ prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil, although it prefers acid soils.

Ilex aquifolium ‘Pendula’ requires little maintenance.

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