Meserve Holly

Meserve holly, 'Blue Girl' cultivar.

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

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

 

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

Landscape Uses:

  • Hedge,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
  • Small shrub (3-5 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil

Season of Interest:

  • Early winter,
  • Mid winter,
  • Late winter,
  • Late fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Round,
  • Upright

Growth Rate:

  • Slow

More Information:

Shape and Form

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

Tree & Plant Care

Best in shady, moist, extrememly well-drained acid soil. Avoid overly wet sites.
Winter drying of the evergreen foliage causes dieback and browning of leaves, especially in open exposed sites.
Water well in fall before soil freezes.
An anti-dessicant spray may help to reduce water loss from the evergreen leaves in winter month.

Disease, pests and problems

No serious pests.
Winter leaf desiccation is a potential problem.
Chlorsis can be a problem in high pH soils.

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 holly (Ilex x meserveae ‘Blue Girl’)Female cultivar, 6 to 8 feet high; pyramidal form.   'Blue Boy' is male pollinator.
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 holly (Ilex x meserveae ‘Blue Boy’)Male cultivar growing 6 to 8 feet high; nonfruiting   Male 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® holly  (Ilex x meserveae ‘Blue Princess’):  female cultivar; 8  to 10 feet high; fruit production heavier than other cultivars.  'Blue Prince' is male pollinator.

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®  holly (Ilex x meserveae ‘Blue Prince’):   Male cultivar;  6 to 8 feet high; maintains good leaf color in winter.  It is a pollinator for 'Blue Princess'. 
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® holly  (Ilex x meserveae ‘WillEmer’): Male cultivar; 3 to 4 feet high, a broadleaf evergreen shrub with dense foliage, which takes on a burgundy tinge in winter.

Hybrids related to the Meserve hybrids:

China Boy® holly  (Ilex x 'Mesdob'):  Male hybrid, 3 to 5 feet high and wide; more cold-hardy than Blue Prince. Pollinator for China Girl® Holly.

China Girl® holly (Ilex x 'Mesog'):  female cultivar, 5 to 6 feet high and 4  to 6 feet wide. Use 'China Boy'as male pollinator.
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.

 

Location of Ilex x meserveae (Meserve Holly) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.