Árbol acebo


Ilex aquifolium

Grèvol (Catalan) | Acibo, acebiño (Galician) | Azevinho (Portuguese) | Acebo (Spanish) | Houx (French)

The holly is a small tree from the Aquifoliaceae family. It can reach 20 m in height and live for up to 500 years, although generally it does not surpass more than 100 years. It forms part of the Christmas decorative custom after replacing mistletoe in occidental Catholic tradition.

It is a shrub or dioecious usually 6 to 15m in height, with a straight trunk, pyramidal shape, a dense crown and branches from its base. Its bark remains smooth throughout its life,

greenish in colour at first and taking on a definitive dark grey tone as of the second or third year.

Its leaves are persistent, simple, petiolate, with an oval shape and, as its most characteristic quality, a heavily thorny edge amongst the younger specimen and on the lowest adult branches. The younger leaves, on the higher adult branches, of a much lighter colour have neither lateral thorns nor are leathery. Lasting five years and of a green, bright colour on the upper side and dull yellowish green on the reverse, totally smooth, rigid and leathery.

There are distinct male and female specimens, the males have whitish flowers that often go unnoticed while the females, on the other hand, after fertilization produce globular fruit the size of a pea, green at first and then slowly turning an intense red when ripe.

Hollies form part of the undergrowth of oak and beech groves, especially in single specimens. Although, on occasion, forming a dense thicket as the dominant species. As it always requires a humid and shady environment, they grow in the interior of the forest or on the shady slope edges, in gorges and mountain ravines. They climb up higher than 2000 m and always in loose fresh soils.

While the holly is a Central European and Mediterranean plant, it doesn´t extend very far north in Europe. They are also found in the north-east of Africa and in the south-east of Asia. On the Peninsula, they are more abundant in the septrentional (or northern) area and as they descend in latitude, they are more commonly found in the serranias (mountain areas) and other mountain ranges.

Today, the holly is a protected species in large swaths across several European countries, given that it was on the verge of extinction in many places.

Holly wood is of good quality, hard and so dense that doesn´t even float on water, therefore useless for the shipbuilding industry. It is, however, prized by woodworkers for making door handles, gun handles and good for dying black and imitating ebony.

Ilex was the Roman name given to the Holm oak, the Swedish naturalist Linnaeus allocated it to the Common holly due to the similarity of its leaves; aquifoliummeans ‘leaf with thorns’.

COMMON HOLLY characteristics

Discover the different parts of the tree are like

Tronco del acebo


Hoja del acebo


Flor del acebo


Fruto del acebo


COMMON HOLLY flowering

  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC