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Genus of the Month


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This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you might also want to visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes , a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family. Also, you can see my contribution to the Conservation New England web site, entitled "The Introduction of Non-Native Plants into Massachusetts".

This month's genus:

Ilex (Holly)

Subclass: Dicotyledoneae
Superorder: Rosidae
Order: Celastrales
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Number of Species: around 400
Root: Latin

The genus Ilex is perhaps best known for its ornamental species, with holly bushes a frequent site in the urban and suburban areas of the Northeastern United States. In case you were wondering why all the plants you see aren't adorned with typical "holly red" berries, it is because most holly species are dioecious, meaning that they produce male and female flowers on separate plants. Ilex species are also used for their wood, for the extraction of ilixanthins (yellow dye) and for the production of Yerba Maté, a tea made from I. paraguensis (Note: I have seen various spellings of the previous species bname, including "paraguayensis" and "paraguariensis", and I'm sticking with the one used in Heywood's Flowering Plants of the World).

Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Ilex species:


  1. Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.

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