Ilex bioritsensis integra H.F.Comber
Ilex dentonii hort. ex Loudon
Ilex monopyrena G.Watt ex Loes.
Ilex andersonii Pasq.
Ilex cunninghamii Loudon
Ilex elliptica (Dallim.) Bean
Nemopanthus andersonii Pasq.
Common Name: Himalayan Holly
Ilex dipyrena is an evergreen shrub or tree growing, usually growing from 2 - 15 metres tall, with occasional specimens to 25 metres[
]. There is a report of one old and very large tree in India that had a bole diameter of 150cm[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a source of materials and possibly also as a food. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental.
Although no specific reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, Ilex species in general contain several potentially toxic compounds, particularly saponins, glycosides and triterpenoids. These compounds also often have a range of potential health benefits[
The berries are usually the part of the plant most likely to be toxic, though the degree of toxicity is usually low. Their bitter flavour usually prevents a person eating more than one or two, but even a small handful of the fruit eaten by a healthy adult is unlikely to cause more than feelings of nausea that can lead on to vomiting and diarrhoea[
The compounds in the leaves are particularly interesting. The leaves of many Ilex species around the world are commonly used to make health-promoting teas that, when drunk on a regular basis, help to regulate bodily functions and can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood-cholesterol levels etc (See Ilex paraguariensis or Ilex kaushue for examples)[
]. Even these teas, however, if taken in very concentrated doses, can act as a laxative or cause vomiting. Indeed, several species are used by traditional peoples to induce vomiting as a means of purifying the body (see Ilex guayusa or Ilex vomitoria for examples)
E. Asia - northeast Pakistan, northern India, Nepal. Myanmar, southern China (Xizang, Yunnan, Sichuan, Hubei)
Evergreen, broadleaved forests, mixed forests, shrubby areas, valleys, roadsides etc, at elevations from 2,000 - 3,400 metres in southern China[
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A plant mainly of moist areas in the warm temperate and subtropical zones, extending into the tropics at higher elevations. It is found at elevations from 1,500 - 3,350 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 27°c, but can tolerate 5 - 31°c[
]. Mature plants can be killed by temperatures of -3°c or lower, but young growth can be severely damaged at -1°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 2,300mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 2,800mm[
Prefers moderate shade, but tolerates full sun and deep shade[
]. Succeeds in a range of well-drained, fertile soils[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 4.5 - 5.5, tolerating 4 - 6.4[
Plants can be cut back and will resprout from old wood[
A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required.
Fruit - raw. The ripe fruits are eaten fresh[
]. Some caution is advised - see notes above on possible toxicity[
The white wood is hard, close-grained, with a pretty silver grain[
]. Not much esteemed, it often cracks on drying and is little used[
The wood is used for fuel[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. It can take 18 months to germinate. Stored seed generally requires two winters and a summer before it will germinate and should be sown as soon as possible in a cold frame. Scarification, followed by a warm stratification and then a cold stratification may speed up the germination time. The seedlings are rather slow-growing. Pot them up into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame for their first year. It is possible to plant them out into a nursery bed in late spring of the following year, but they should not be left here for more than two years since they do not like being transplanted. Alternatively, grow them on in their pots for a second season and then plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Give them a good mulch and some protection for their first winter outdoors.