Ilex crenata Thunb.
An evergreen shrub usually 5 to 9 ft high, or a small tree of very dense, rigid, compact habit; young shoots angular, and covered with minute dark down. Leaves crowded, elliptic to oblong-lanceolate or obovate, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. wide, tapered at the base to a short stalk, sharply pointed and with a few incurved teeth at the margins, glossy green, and of hard texture, dotted beneath with pellucid glands. Male flowers in cymose clusters, female solitary, borne in the leaf-axils of the current season’s shoots, dull white. Fruits black.
Native of Japan and Korea; introduced to Europe about 1864. It is not easy to ascertain what is the typical form of this holly, but the one above described is what is commonly regarded as such – very distinct in its close habit and small leaves, and rarely more than 3 or 4 ft high.
cv. ‘Convexa’. – A clone of Japanese origin making a dense bush broader than high. Leaves elliptic, glossy, about 1⁄2 in. long, convex above, concave beneath, somewhat bullate.
cv. ‘Golden Gem’. – Leaves golden. Habit low and spreading. The colouring is best developed in a sunny position.
cv. ‘Helleri’. – A low, dense, spreading bush. Leaves dark green, elliptic, up to about 1⁄2 in. long, with a few teeth on either side. Raised in the USA.
f. latifolia (Goldring) Rehd. I. crenata var. latifolia Goldring – A small tree occasionally 20 ft high, with box-like oval leaves 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. long, 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 in. wide, minutely round-toothed. Fruits round, 1⁄4 in. wide, on stalks 1⁄4 in. or less long. It was introduced by Fortune and is probably of garden origin.
f. longifolia (Goldring) Rehd. I. crenata var. longifolia Goldring – Leaves narrowly lanceolate.
cv. ‘Mariesii’. – A very stiff-habited, extraordinarily dwarf holly, with stunted twigs hidden by orbicular or broadly ovate leaves about 1⁄4 in. wide, sometimes entire, sometimes with a pair of shallow teeth near the apex. Fruits black, on stalks 1⁄12 in. long. Interesting for the rock garden as a pigmy. Introduced for Messrs Veitch by Maries about 1879. It only grows part of an inch a year. (I. nummularioides Franch. & Sav.; I. crenata var. nummularioides (Franch. & Sav.) Yatabe.)
var. paludosa (Nakai) Hara I. radicans Nakai; I. radicans var. paludosa Nakai – Of prostrate habit. Found wild in swampy situations.
cv. ‘Stokes’. – Of low, dense, rounded habit.
cv. ‘Variegata’ (‘Aureovariegata’). – Leaves of the same shape and size as the normal form, but spotted or blotched with yellow, sometimes wholly of that colour.
I. crenata is a popular shrub in Japan. It is used largely for clipping into fantastic shapes, also as a dwarf hedge. So dense and hard are some of these flat-topped hedges that a man can walk along the top of them. It is also much grown in the United States, and for a full account of the garden varieties cultivated there see the article by D. Wyman in Arnoldia, Vol. 20 (1960), pp. 41-6.
I. mutchagara Mak. I. crenata var. mutchagara (Mak.) Ohwi – Branchlets angled. Leaves rather thin, up to 2 in. long, broadly lanceolate to obovate-oblong, bluntly pointed. A close ally of I. crenata, described from the Ryukyu Archipelago.
From the Supplement (Vol. V)
cv. ‘Mariesii’. – The cultivar-name ‘Nummularia’, which is used for this in some continental works, is incorrect, as pointed out by Dudley and Eisenbeiss in the Bulletin of the Holly Society of America No. 16 (1977). They remark that the slow growth of ‘Mariesii’ in Britain must be due to the shortness of the growing season, since in the USA it can attain a height of something over 8 ft in twenty years, and sets fruit.