We inherited a beautiful large holly bush when we bought our house. I would like to know if it is a male or female bush.

It does not have any red berries in the winter which is the only visual cue I personally would know to identify if the bush were male or female. From my walks around the neighborhood I have not observed a single other holly bush- nothing within the range specified to provide pollination to this bush. Thus, I assume that it could be a female, but not receiving necessary pollination to make the berries.

I would like to buy another holly at some point and I would like the buy the opposite gender so that one of the bushes could sport the lovely berries.

Today I browsed the plants at our local Menards and observed that their Blue Prince holly bushes looked identical to my bush in every aspect other than size.

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1 Answer 1


My guess is that that is an English Holly or a hybrid. American Hollies produce red berries on the female and inconspicuous tiny white flowers on the males. I have many American holly trees in my yard and the adjacent national forest and never saw any berries like your picture. The leaf and growth habit is also slightly different from an American Holly.

  • I am quite confident it is a hybrid: a Meserve holly, a "blue holly." I am pretty attentive to the plant and I have not noticed any flowers which is also puzzling to me. Here's some background on them if it interests you: hvp.osu.edu/pocketgardener/source/description/il_rveae.html
    – Kar
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 0:44
  • 1
    My female American Holly (Ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite') produces small white flowers just like the male holly. IIRC, the structure of the flowers differ, however. It's not easy to tell the sexes apart with the naked eye. I'm lucky in that a neighbor apparently owns the 6 ft x 6 ftmale that pollinates my females - it's about 150-200 feet away.
    – Jurp
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 12:43

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