Shrub or tree with smooth dark gray-brown bark and green (on young branches the bark is green and shiny). The leaves are alternate, leathery, hard, evergreen, ovate or elliptical, pointed (sometimes lanceolate), the lower leaves are with prickly denticles, and the upper ones are not often with a smooth edge. The flowers are small, dioecious and hermaphroditic (polygamous plant), arranged in bunches in the axils of the leaves. Calyx persistent, with 4 teeth; corolla white, four-petalled, not fused; stamens 4; pistil with an upper four-celled ovary. The fruit is a red berry with 4 seeds. Blooms in early summer.

Distributed in moist and shady forests. The leaves are used for medicinal purposes. According to old data, the leaves contain glycoside ilicin, xanthine bases (ilexanthin), ilexeic acid, tannins.

Holly leaves are recommended as an anti-febrile and diuretic for dropsy, rheumatism, colds.


A decoction of 10 g of dry chopped leaves is used, which are boiled in 0.5 liters of water until half boils away (dose for 2 days or 1 day is stronger). The diuretic effect of holly is probably due to the content of xanthine bases.

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