Ilex x 'Nellie R. Stevens' (Holly)
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A hybrid of two non-native but highly ornamental hollies, Ilex x 'Nellie R. Stevens' is descended from the Chinese holly (Ilex cornuta) and English holly (Ilex aquifolium) and is named for Nellie Stevens, a schoolteacher from Oxford, MD who collected berries and planted seeds at her family home where the hybrids grew unremarkably until 1952 when it was established they were an entirely new plant.
Typically grown as a large shrub or small tree, 'Nellie R. Stevens' has a vaguely conical form and grows to a height of 15-25' tall and 8-12' wide and grows best in moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soils with some fertility. In Spring, this cultivar produces small white flowers which attract all sorts of pollinators and, unlike most holly cultivars, do not require a male pollinator plant to successfully set fruit, although male Ilex cornuta or the hybrid cultivar 'Edward J. Stevens,' (named for Nellie's father) will increase berry production. With long, dark, few-spined leaves and the ability to set berries by itself, 'Nellie R. Stevens' is a great bit of Maryland history and a great addition to any landscape.
Although neither of the hybrid's parents is native to the US, 'Nellie R. Stevens' is a unique cultivar that originated from the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, DC.