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Ilex aquifolium


Also known as: Holly; Helver; Holm; Aunt Mary;s Tree
Poisonberry, Christmas Tree, Christ’s Thorn

Plant Folklore: Young leaves used as a cure for colds, bronchitis and rheumatism. Berries are highly poinsonous but a small dose used as a purgative.
Unlucky to cut down a tree, but branches can be taken if a little offering (silver coin) is left at the base.
Symbol of midwinter festivities since pre-Christian times.
In England it is grown close to the house to keep witches away.
In Ireland it is grown away from the house so as not to disturb the fairies who live in it.
Keeps away lightning so alcohol vendors would set up their stalls under holly at markets. Thus the association with pub names.
Grown by druids close to the home to lift winter melancholy.
In pagan ritual, holly symbolised the male god carrying life through the winter in its evergreen leaves.
Ivy was the goddess.
Some claims that its use at Christmas relates to the leaves looking like Christ’s crown of thorns and the berries looking like blood, but these, probably, are to justify adoption of a pagan ritual.
Throwing holly wood at a wild animal will make it lie down quietly (anyone tried it?)
The holly king rules from midsummer to midwinter when he is replaced by the oak king, until the next midsummer.
A heavy crop of berries is a sign of a hard winter to come.

Factual Inf: Holly wood is used to make horsewhips.

Thank you Hywel, I used your image

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Lovely picture Hywel the holly is the reason decorations are put up in the house too as they use to bring it in to decorate their homes in winter our christmas as it bore fruit for winter.

20 Nov, 2009


Lovely picture Hywel,and thank you Alice as well.I had the "van tol" holly,at our last house,and have the "golden King"one now,which is full of berries too.Better batten down the hatches then:o)))

20 Nov, 2009


Beautiful holly pic Hywel...holly has obviously played a big part in the folklore of many countries.

I've read that the leaves of a female holly were put under a pillow to foresee the future in dreams.

20 Nov, 2009

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