Ilex pubescens is an evergreen shrub or a small tree that can grow around 3 - 8 metres tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine.
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 - southern China, Taiwan
Evergreen broad-leaf forests, forest margins, shrubby areas, streamsides and roadsides at elevations of 100 - 1000 metres[
This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[
]. Another report says that the plant only tolerates temperatures down to about -3°c[
Ilex species generally tolerate most soils that are not water-logged[
Resents root disturbance, especially as the plants get older[
]. It is best to place the plants into their permanent positions as soon as possible, perhaps giving some winter protection for their first year or two[
Plants are very tolerant of pruning and can be cut right back into old wood if required[
A dioecious species - both male and female forms must be grown if fruit and seed are required.
The root is anti-inflammatory, antitussive, depurative, expectorant and febrifuge[
]. It causes a strong and persistent dilation of the blood vessels, increasing the blood flow to the coronary artery, lowering blood pressure and reducing oxygen consumption of the cardiac muscles[
]. It is used in the treatment of Buerger's disease, angina pectoris, acute myocardial infarction, tonsillitis, acute bronchitis with cough and sputum, hypertension[
The root is also used to treat erysipelas, burns, ulcers, central retinitis, swelling and aching of gum[
The root has an antibacterial action against both gram positive and negative bacilli[
The plant is vasodilator, hypotensive. It has been used successfully in the treatment of severe chest pains due to coronary problems[
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.
Cuttings of almost ripe wood with a heel, August in a shaded position in a cold frame. Leave for 12 months before potting up.
Layering in early autumn. Takes 2 years.