Herb: Horned Holly

Latin name: Ilex cornuta

Family: Aquifoliaceae (Holly Family)

Medicinal use of Horned Holly:

The whole plant is abortifacient, carminative, contraceptive, febrifuge and tonic. It particularly strengthens the back and knees. The leaf is made into a tea which is said to be contraceptive if used by women and is also used for termination pregnancies. The stem bark is tonic. The whole plant is used in the treatment of arthritis, recurring fever in pulmonary tuberculosis, tubercular lymph nodes, joint pained and lumbago.

Description of the plant:


4 m
(13 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Ravines and hills, 150 - 600 metres. Wild places and alongside mountain paths in full sunshine.

Edible parts of Horned Holly:

The fruit is thin-skinned with a sweet taste. Is this report suggesting that it is edible?.The fruit is about 8 - 10mm in diameter.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. It can take 18 months to germinate. Stored seed generally requires two winters and a summer before it will germinate and should be sown as soon as possible in a cold frame. Scarification, followed by a warm stratification and then a cold stratification may speed up the germination time. The seedlings are rather slow-growing. Pot them up into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame for their first year. It is possible to plant them out into a nursery bed in late spring of the following year, but they should not be left here for more than two years since they do not like being transplanted. Alternatively, grow them on in their pots for a second season and then plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Give them a good mulch and some protection for their first winter outdoors. Cuttings of almost ripe wood with a heel, August in a shaded position in a cold frame. Leave for 12 months before potting up. Layering in October. Takes 2 years.

Cultivation of Horned Holly:

Ravines and hills, 150 - 600 metres. Wild places and alongside mountain paths in full sunshine.

Known hazards of Ilex cornuta:

Although no specific reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, the fruits of at least some members of this genus contain saponins and are slightly toxic. They can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and stupor if eaten in quantity.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.