Ilex colchica
Common Name: black sea holly 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Native Range: Turkey
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 8.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest, Thorns


Grow in organically rich, slightly acidic, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers evenly moist, organic loams. Site in locations protected from strong winter winds.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ilex colchica, commonly called Black Sea holly, is native to forested areas in the Balkan Peninsula, Caucasus and Turkey. It was formerly classified as a subspecies of Ilex aquifolium. It typically matures to 10' tall and to 8' wide. This is an evergreen holly featuring narrow-elliptic, short-stalked, spinose-serrated, glossy green leaves (to 2 1/2" long) and bright red berries which mature in fall. Dioecious (female plants will need male pollinator in order to set fruit). Small, white flowers bloom in clusters from the leaf axils in spring (April-May). Flowers on female plants, if pollinated, give way to a profuse crop of berries (3/8” diameter) which mature to orange-red in fall (November).

Genus name comes from the Latin name Quercus ilex for holm oak in reference to the foliage similarities (holm oak and many of the shrubs in the genus Ilex have evergreen leaves).

Specific epithet is in reference to Colchis, an ancient country located on the eastern shore of the Black Sea (now part of the Republic of Georgia).


No serious insect or disease problems. Occasional problems include leaf spots and powdery mildew. Susceptible to chlorosis in high pH (alkaline) soils.


Mass or group in shrub borders and foundations. Tall hedge or screen. Specimen.