What is the difference between Buxus and Ilex?


The two plants are completely unrelated, belonging to different families. Ilex is commonly known as holly - it usually has prickly, relatively large, evergreen leaves and they generally make much larger shrubs/trees than Buxus. Female plants produce berries, mostly red ones. Buxus or box is commonly used for hedging or topiary, has small, evergreen leaves and these days, is prone to several diseases/infestations. If you google both and select images, you will see how different they are.

  • Not all Ilex are evergreen (Ilex verticillata for example), so that's another difference. – Jurp Nov 3 '19 at 23:39
  • I would not say Buxus is prone to several diseases/infestations. Buxus has been popular in the US since the plantation days. Those same plants still exist. Not until recently when box blight was introduced have there been any real problems. This blight is still only sporadic and shown up in every part of the N. America. One bug that likes to live on it, never does significant damage, a little and I mean little unsightly, but it is easily treatable. I can't think of any major diseases for Ilex, but it does get it's share of pest. There are Ilex that make great box alternatives. – GardenGems Nov 4 '19 at 1:25
  • @GardenGems depends where you live, its not clear where the OP is, see here rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=851 and note, left unclipped, problems are reduced. But since most people keep Box clipped, well... – Bamboo Nov 4 '19 at 12:27
  • @Jurp yea, but holly are mostly evergreen - which is why I said 'usually', didn't want to complicate things when outlining differences between the two genera – Bamboo Nov 4 '19 at 14:36
  • @Bamboo - Ah, but the OP said "Ilex" not "holly" (I. verticillata being a Winterberry of course). I see your point, but hardiness also enters into the differences, with Buxus not being particularly hardy in northern US and most of Canada and I. verticillata being native to those areas. We also have Inkberry, too. (I. glabra, I think). Ilex is a rather fascinating genus, actually. I should've mentioned hardiness in my own comment, though, to help make that clearer. – Jurp Nov 4 '19 at 14:44

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