This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Characters of the order. Prinos, the ancient Greek name for the Holly, was formerly held to be a distinct genus, founded mainly upon the greater number of stones in the berries; but the examination of a larger number of species has induced botanists to unite them. Most of the species referred to it are deciduous. Ilex is the Latin name applied to Quercus Ilex, the Evergreen Oak.
1. I. Aquifolium. Common Holly. - This is undoubtedly the handsomest of indigenous evergreen trees, especially in Winter, its dark green foliage contrasting so beautifully with the bright scarlet berries. Besides the ordinary wild form there is an infinity of varieties in cultivation, some of them very striking and others inferior to the type. Thus the varieties with white, yellow, or black berries, although interesting, are less effective than the scarlet-berried variety; and the variety called ferox, or Hedgehog, in which the leaves are studded nearly all over with sharp prickles, is more remarkable than pretty, and the same may be said of ferox aurea and ferox argentea, the Gold and Silver Hedgehog Hollies. In return, some of the gold and silver varieties are eminently deserving of cultivation, particularly some of the unarmed ones, as aureo-marginata and albo-marginata. There are also some very prettily blotched and striped varieties, both gold and -silver, and with or without prickly leaves. Some of the unarmed green forms with very dark glossy green leaves, cartilaginous on the margin, are worthy of a place in every collection, including laurifolia, myrtifolia, ovata, etc.
There are several other species of this genus in cultivation, but few equal and none excel the best varieties of the common one, and none are so hardy. Those most commonly seen are: I. crenata, a small-leaved compact bush from Japan; I. latifolia, also from Japan, a fine tree with very coriaceous serrated leaves about the size of those of the Cherry Laurel; I. Dahoon, a very variable North American shrub.
The species generally referred to Prinos, in cultivation, are : glabra, an evergreen shrub with small lanceolate leaves and black berries; and verticillata, a deciduous shrub with ovate-lanceolate leaves hairy on the veins beneath, and sessile clusters of small white flowers followed by red berries. Both are natives of North America, where the former bears the name of Inkberry, and the latter that of Black Alder.