The Classification of a Holly Tree


The classification of a holly tree includes categories that revolve around the home landscape and into the realm of religious significance. This versatile plant serves many functions in the garden and is also prized for its use during the winter holiday season. From their fruit production to their decorative qualities, identify those diverse characteristics for a well-defined understanding of holly classification.


Holly plants belong to the genus Ilex and are classified as over 400 different species, according to the Clemson University Extension. Species includes, but are not limited to, the Japanese hollies (Ilex crenata). This holly plant reaches 10 feet in height with a fast growth rate. Japenese hollies display evergreen foliage and black fruit. American hollies (Ilex opaca) are known as the Christmas holly; with a total height of up to 50 feet, American hollies produce green leaves and vivid red fruit. Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is a holly plant that reside in bogs. With a height of 6 to 10 feet, the winterberry produces vivid red berries that remain on the tree throughout the entire winter season, according to the Clemson University Extension.

Berry Producers

Holly trees are known for their bright red berries. However, when classifying the holly tree as a berry producer, only female plants bear berries. Based on botanical technicalities, the berries of the holly tree contain a pit-like seed, which means holly fruit is actually a drupe. However, based on colloquial jargon and appearance, the fruits are referred to as berries, according to the University of Illinois Extension.


The holly tree is classified as traditional Christmas plant used as a holiday decoration often in the form of a wreath. Stemming from early Christianity, holly's name may be derived from "holy tree" with leaves representing the crown of thorns worn by Christ and berries serving as blood droplets, according to the University of Illinois Extension.


Classification of the holly tree includes its use as a privacy plant in the home landscape. Since the height range of hollies includes a wide span from 18 inches to more than 50 feet tall, hollies offer versatile function in the garden. Whether you need a shorter hedge to delineate one gardening area from the other, or you are seeking a tall, dense variety for a privacy screen, the holly tree offers species and varieties to serve your garden's needs, according to the Clemson University Extension.

Disease Susceptible

Holly trees are classified as disease-susceptible plants as they suffer from a variety of different problems. Disease is often fungal in nature, including black root rot and phythophthora root rot. Both diseases occur when soil is poorly drained and holly trees are subjected to excessively wet conditions. Fungal infection destroys root systems and plants face decline and death. Since fungicidal applications do not cure holly fungus, maintain proper care of your plants for prevention. Additionally, remove and destroy affected plant parts to inhibit spread of disease and, for phytophthora root rot, apply a fungicide with the active ingredient etridiazole only as a preventive measure, according to the Clemson University Extension.

Keywords: classification holly tree, holly plant classified, holly tree berries

About this Author

Tarah Damask's writing career, beginning in 2003, includes experience as a fashion writer/editor for Neiman Marcus, short fiction publications in "North Texas Review," a self-published novel, band biographies, charter school curriculum, and articles for eHow. She has a love for words and is an avid observer. Damask holds a Master of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of North Texas.