Ilex cornuta

[Varieties from left to right: Carissa, Chinese, Robin]
(Photos by Bucky Shiver)

View the Location on Campus

Taxonomy (1,2)

Classification: Angiosperm, dicot
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Common name: Carissa Holly (Carissa), Chinese Holly (Chinese), Robin Holly (hybrid)
Varieties on campus: Carissa, Chinese, Chinese holly/English holly hybrid

General Information (1,2,3)

Region of Origin: Eastern Asia (Carissa and Chinese), hybrid between English holly and Chinese holly (Robin)
USDA Plants Hardiness Zones: 7-9 (Carissa and Chinese), 6-9 (Robin)
Growth Habit: Shrub

  • Size: 8-25 feet (Carissa and Chinese), 15-20 feet (Robin)
  • Deciduous/Evergreen: Evergreen
  • Flowering: late March to early April

Diagnostic Characteristics

Leaves (1,2,3)

  • Arrangement: Alternate
  • Simple/Compound: Simple
  • Shape: Ovate (Carissa)
  • Size: 2-4 inches (Carissa); 3-5 inches (Chinese and Robin) 
  • Other: Leathery; 5-7 spikes (Chinese); 7-9 spikes (Robin); new spring growth is red (Robin)

[Varieties from left to right: Carissa, Chinese, Robin]
(Photos by Bucky Shiver)

Stem/Bark (1,2,3)

  • Color: Gray

[Varieties from left to right: Carissa, Chinese, Robin]
(Photos by Bucky Shiver)

Flower (1,2)

  • Perfect/Imperfect: Imperfect
  • Color: White (Carissa and Robin); Yellow (Chinese)
  • Size: 1/4-1/3 inch

[Varieties from left to right: Carissa, Robin]
(Photos by Bucky Shiver)

Fruit (1)

  • Size: 1/4-1/3 inch
  • Color: Red

Horticultural Information (1,2,3)

  • Light: Full sun-part shade (Carissa and Chinese), Full sun (Robin)
  • pH: Slightly alkaline
  • Maintenance: Easy to care for (Robin)
  • Landscape Uses: Home foundation (Carissa and Chinese), privacy screen (Robin)
  • Other: Heat and drought tolerant (Chinese and Carissa)

Interesting Facts (1)

  • Displays tremendous heat tolerance, surviving worst drought in US history (Carissa and Chinese)
  • Good parental species for transferring heat tolerance to progeny (Carissa and Chinese)


1) Dirr, Michael A. (1990). Manual of woody landscape plants. Champaign, Illinois. Stipes publishing company.
2) (2013) Retrieved 4/2/13 from
3) (2009). Retrieved 4/2/13 from

Prepared by Bucky Shiver as a course requirement for BIOL 3630/5630, Spring 2013
Edited by Jessica Bartek