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Botanical Name: Ilex ‘Nellie R. Stevens’

Common Name: Nellie R. Stevens Holly
Origin: Garden Origin
Location: CNE, CSE, KS


Notable Feature: The famed horticulturist J.C. Raulston once described ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ as “possibly the best evergreen for landscaping....period!” Its glossy green foliage, its abundant red fruit relished by wildlife, and its tolerance to heat, cold, and drought all have proven Nellie to be an enduring superstar.

Habit: This stately, dense, and vigorous holly hybrid, a cross between English holly (Ilex aquifolium) and Chinese holly (Ilex cornuta), rapidly forms a broad, pyramidal tree, 15 to 25 feet tall and 8 to 12 feet wide.

Flower: Inconspicuous, greenish white flowers appear in April. This is a female clone and it is self-pollinating, meaning it does not require a male pollinator to produce berries, as other hollies require.

Fruit: Berry-like, bright red fruits ripen in fall and persist into winter; interestingly fruit is produced without a male pollinator.

Foliage: The evergreen, glossy, dark green, 4-inch long leaves have spiny margins.

Interesting Fact: Who was Nellie R. Stevens.....a school teacher from Oxford, MD. Though bees were responsible for the pollen mingling of these two species, it was in the fall of 1900 that Nellie visited the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., filched a few berries to plant back home, and years later inadvertently introduced this holly to the horticultural world.

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