Holey, or Ilex, L. a genus of shrubs consisting of 16 species ; one of which is a native of Britain', namely, the aquifolium, or Common Holly-tree : it grows in Woods or hedges, and produces small whitish flowers in the month of May, which are succeeded by scarlet berries that are ripe in December.
This evergreen is propagated by seed ; for which purpose the berries are to be put into the ground for one year, after which they should be ta en up, and sown at Michaelmas : the young plants will appear in the succeeding year. These are to be transplanted in the summer; and, if the operation be carefully performed, their growth will berapid, especially if they be watered in dry seasons, and the soil about the roots be frequently loosen-ed. There is a great variety of this cultivated shrub, all of which are propagated by budding, or engrafting them on stocks of the common green holly.
This species is of great utility : the croppings of its leaves afford, in winter, a grateful food to sheep; and its berries support the feathered creation, during that inclement season. The holly makes an impenetrable fence, and is eminently calculated for the formation of hedges, as it admits of being cropped, and retains its verdure, and the beauty of its scarlet berries, without receiving any injury from the severest winters. The common birdlime (see vol. i. p. 263) is prepared from the bark, after it has been fermented, and cleared from the woody fibres. Its wood is much used in veneering, and is frequently stained black, to imitate ebony. It is likewise advantageously employed in the making of handles for knives, and cogs for the wheels of mills.
In medicine, the leaves of the holly have lately been employed with uncommon success in cases of the gout, agues, colics, etc.: the birdlime obtained from the bark is said to be an excellent application to obstinate swellings.