(Also known as English Holly)

Ilex aquifolium

Family: Aquifoliaceae

Type of weed:

Priority Weed Local Priority Weed. (See more weeds of the class.)

Flowering Months: , , , ,


An evergreen large shrub or tree.

Leaves are dark green, glossy and very spiky.

Flowers are small, whitish, inconspicuous and sweetly scented. They appear late spring to summer.

Bunches of bright red berries appear in winter.

Don’t confuse with…

If there are no flowers or berries, Holly can be confused with two native plants:

  • Native Holly (Podolobium ilicifolium)
  • Silky Daisy Bush (Olearia myrsinoides)


Dispersed by birds and in dumped garden waste. Holly also spreads by suckering and layering.

Impact on bushland

Holly forms dense stands, displaces native plants and changes the environment in which it grows. The deep shade is unsuitable for native plants to germinate. This results in loss of ground layer.


Alternative planting

Native plants

Bird attracting natives, screening shrubs and small trees such as:

  • Heath Banksia (Banksia ericifolia)
  • Grevillea spp
  • Hakea dactyloides
  • Callistemon spp
  • Acacia spp
  • Leptospermum spp
  • Blueberry Ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatus)

Council provides a tool, on its Mountain Landscapes website, to help you choose native alternative plantings. Choose your village, soil, vegetation community and the purpose of your planting, and the tool will give you suggestions.

There are native nurseries in several Blue Mountains villages, including Glenbrook, Lawson and Katoomba. Please also ask at your favourite local nursery.


Specific control tips for this weed


Berries are bird spread. Treat plants before they fruit. Cutting the plant without poisoning will not work because it suckers and coppices (grows multiple shoots from the stem once cut). Leaving fragments of root or stem can also allow the plant to regrow.

  • Small seedlings: dig up if you can remove all the roots.
  • Juvenile plants: scrape and paint, making sure that you scrape at least 1/3 of the length of the stem; on larger plants, scrape two sides. Apply herbicide carefully using an applicator bottle immediately on the scraped area.
  • Large plants: (any plant with a stem diameter of 40 mm or more at the base). Stem inject trunks; for plants taller than 2.5 m, either lop off the top half or inject a second ring about half way up. Exposed roots can also be scraped and painted or injected. Check for layering branches: these can be cut and each ‘touch down’ treated as a seperate juvenile plant.
  • Alternatively, remove lower branches of larger plants to 1–2 m from the ground and then stem inject herbicide up to the pruned level.

Use a full strength herbicide with these techniques.

Cut branches or stems may be spread out to dry off the ground. When dead, this material will decompose in place, or may be composted.

For more info

For key points on these techniques:

Local Priority Weed

Control measures:

  • The plant should be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
  • Plants under 4 metres in height should be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
  • The spread of this plant should be adequately contained to prevent spread impacting on priority assets. Weed notices will only be issued for these weeds under special circumstances.