WHAT IS HOLLY?
Holly is an evergreen shrub. The trees are dioecious (male or
female). The females are preferred for cutting since only they carry
the bright red berries. The trees can have spiny or smooth edges on
the leaves and the leaves can be green or variegated with green or
yellow and white. The small branches are commonly used for
decoration at Christmas.
WHERE IS HOLLY PRODUCED IN BC?
Holly is principally grown on Vancouver Island with a few small
plantings still left on the Sunshine Coast and in the Fraser Valley.
HOW MUCH HOLLY DO WE PRODUCE?
All of Canada's production comes from BC. It is a declining
industry with fewer than 10 commercial producers cutting less than
50,000 kg per year. Many of the older established plantings in the
greater Victoria area have been lost to urbanization over the past
HOW IS HOLLY PRODUCED?
Holly trees can be started from seeds or from cuttings. Since the
trees are either male or female, all commercial trees are propagated
vegetatively, usually from cuttings to ensure an optimum number of
female trees. They grow in well drained soil. Holly trees flower in
the spring and the females produce berries in autumn. All the
harvesting is done by hand beginning in November and no further
pruning is normally required.
WHAT DOES HOLLY LOOK LIKE WHEN I USE IT?
Holly sprigs and branches are used for decoration, traditionally
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE HOLLY LEAVES THE FARM?
Once the holly sprigs are cut they are taken to a central shed
where they are dipped in a solution containing a copper fungicide
and a plant hormone to prevent disease and leaf drop. After being
dried, these branches are packed into plastic bags inside cartons
and shipped to their destination. Most of this BC holly ends up in
major centres in Eastern Canada.
WHAT CHALLENGES DOES THE HOLLY PRODUCER FACE?
There are both insect and disease problems which can make the
holly crop unmarketable. A leaf miner which tunnels in the leaf in
the early spring must be controlled and a serious fungal disease
(twig blight) has cost growers entire crops in some years.
In addition, the market for the product seems to be in a decline
as plastic versions take over the marketplace.
WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING HOLLY?
In all cases, the growers are also responsible for their own
packing, shipping and sales.
Interesting Fact About Holly:
The name holly (from holy) is associated with folklore and
religion. An ancient Druid ritual was to bring sprigs of holly
indoors to provide a winter refuge for woodland spirits.
- Contacts and other resources:
BC agriculture - Agroforestry Information
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