Ilex crenata Helleri
Ilex crenata, commonly known as Japanese holly or box-leaved holly, is a dense, multi-branched, evergreen shrub with a rounded form that typically matures to 5-10’ tall and as wide. It is native to forests, thickets and mountain slopes in Japan, Korea, China and eastern Russia (Sakhalin). It is noted for its ovate to elliptic, crenate to serrulate, glossy, spineless, evergreen, deep green leaves (to 1 1/4" long) which are attractive all year, 4 petaled white flowers which bloom in 3-7 flowered cymes in late spring (May-June), and black rounded somewhat inconspicuous fruits (drupes to 1/4” diameter) which mature in fall on pollinated female plants. Genus name comes from the Latin name for holm oak, Quercus ilex, in reference to the foliage similarities (holm oak and many of the shrubs in the genus Ilex have evergreen leaves). Specific epithet is in obvious reference to the crenate margins of this species. Most cultivars of this species are more compact than the species, typically growing to 3-4’ tall. 'Helleri' is a dwarf-rounded, slow-growing, evergreen, female cultivar that is densely clad with tiny, glossy, obovate, evergreen leaves (to only 1/2" long). It typically matures to 2-4' tall and to 3-5' wide over time unless pruned smaller. It infrequently produces spring flowers or fall fruit. 'Helleri' was introduced into commerce in 1936 by J. Helleri of Newport, Rhode Island.