Herb latin name: Ilex purpurea

Synonyms: Ilex chinensis, Ilex oldhamii

Family: Aquifoliaceae (Holly Family)

Medicinal use of Ilex purpurea:

This plant is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs. It is reported to have antitumor properties. An extract of the leaves is made into a solution and used for treating burns, ulcers in the lower extremities etc. The ashes of the leaves are used as a dressing for skin ailments and poisoned wounds. Seed is carminative and tonic.

Description of the plant:


12 m
(39 feet)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Forest openings.

Propagation of Ilex purpurea:

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 the herb:

Forest openings.

Known hazards of Ilex purpurea:

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.