Ilex koshunensis Yamam.
Ilex microcarpa Lindl. & Paxton
Ilex sasakii Yamam.
Ilex unicanaliculata C.J.Tseng
Synstima rotundifolia Raf.
Ilex rotunda is an evergreen shrub or a tree that can grow up to 20 metres tall with a bole that can be up to 100cm in diameter[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine.
Ilex rotunda has a very wide distribution, large population, is not currently experiencing any major threats and no significant future threats have been identified. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2019)[
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 - southeast China, northern Vietnam, Laos, central and southern Japan, Korea.
Evergreen broad-leaf forests, forest margins on mountain slopes; at elevations from 400 - 1,100 metres[
This species should be hardy in the milder areas of the temperate zone, especially if provenances from the northern end of its range in Japan are obtained[
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 stem bark is detoxicant[
The stem bark and the root bark are used to treat eczema, rheumatic arthritis, traumatic injury, sores and boils, sore throat, diarrhoea due to damp-heat, abdominal distension, and fever due to summer-heat and dampness[
The plant is used in a mixture with other herbs for its haemostatic action[
An extract of the whole plant is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as a skin conditioner[
An extract of the leaves is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as a skin protector[
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[