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TREES & Plants

Meserve Holly

The Merserve hollies are hybrids that do well in northern climates like the Chicago region.  Like all hollies, there are separate male and female plants and both must be planted for the female plant to produce the showy fruit.

Botanical name: 
Ilex x meserveae
All Common Names: 
Meserve Holly, Meserve Hybrid Hollies
Family (English): 
Holly
Family (Botanic): 
Aquifoliaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
Foliage: 
  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun (4-6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial shade (4-6 hrs indirect light daily)
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Size Range: 
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
Shape or Form: 
  • Rounded
  • Upright
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Massing
  • Hedge
  • Mixed border
Time of Year: 
  • Early winter
  • Mid winter
  • Late winter
  • Late fall
More Information: 

Shape and Form

8 to 15 feet high; size varies by cultivar; rounded to upright form.

Tree & Plant Care

Avoid overly wet soils.
Winter drying of the evergreen foliage is a danger, especially in exposed sites.
Water well in fall before soil freezes.
An anti-dessicant may help to reduce water loss from the evergreen leaves.

Disease, pests and problems

No serious pests.
Winter desiccation is a potential problem.

Native geographic location and habitat

Hybrid plants derived from crosses between Ilex rugosa (Prostate Holly) and Ilex aquifolium (English Holly)  and crosses between Ilex cornuta (Chinese holly) and Ilex rugosa.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is green, turning brown with age.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate, evergreen leaves; 1 to 2 inches long with spines along the margin.
Foliage is evergreen, so no fall color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Inconspicuous; male and female flowers on separate plants; male must be planted near females so the females will be pollinated and set fruit.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Red berry-like fruit (drupes) on female plants only; persist into winter.

Cultivars and their differences 

Blue Girl  (Ilex x meserveae ‘Blue Girl’)Female cultivar, 6 to 8 feet high; pyramidal form.   Note: Berri-Magic®Kids Holly is ‘Blue Boy’ and ‘Blue Girl’ planted in the same container; only one container is needed to ensure pollination and fruit production.

Blue Boy  (Ilex x meserveae ‘Blue Boy’)Male cultivar growing 6 to 8 feet high; nonfruiting   'Blue Boy' is is a pollinator for 'Blue Girl' Holly.   Note: Berri-Magic®Kids Holly is ‘Blue Boy’ and ‘Blue Girl’ planted in the same container; only one container is needed to ensure pollination and fruit production.

Blue Princess  (Ilex x meserveae ‘Blue Princess’):  8  to 10 feet high; female cultivar; fruit production heavier than other cultivars.  Note: Berry Magic® Royalty Holly and 'Royal Family' are both ‘Blue Prince' and ‘Blue Princess’ planted in the same container; only one container is needed to ensure pollination and fruit production.

Blue Prince  (Ilex x meserveae ‘Blue Prince’):    6 to 8 feet high; maintains good leaf color in winter; non-fruiting male cultivar.  It is a pollinator for Blue Princess Holly.  Note: Berry Magic® Royalty Holly and 'Royal Family' are both ‘Blue Prince' and ‘Blue Princess’ planted in the same container; only one container is needed to ensure pollination and fruit production.

Emerald Magic®  (Ilex x meserveae ‘WillEmer’):    3 to 4 feet high; non-fruiting male broadleaf evergreen shrub with dense foliage, which takes on a burgundy tinge in winter.

 

Hybrids related to the Meserve hybrids:

China Boy® (Ilex x 'Mesdob):  3 to 5 feet high and wide; more cold-hardy than Blue Prince; non-fruiting (male); pollinator for China Girl® Holly.

China Girl®  (Ilex x 'Mesog'):  5 to 6 feet high and 4  to 6 feet wide; female cultivar.  Note: Berry Magic® China Holly is  China Boy® and China Girl® planted in the same container; only one container is needed to ensure pollination and fruit production.