Holly hiiragi


Holly Tree (Ilex family)

***** Location: USA, other countries
***** Season: All Winter
(late autumn in Japan)
***** Category: Flower


Ilex opaca : American Holly
Ilex aquifolium : English holly
Ilex cornuta : Chinese holly
Ilex crenata : Japanese holly
Ilex paraguariensis : Yerba mate

(from whose leaves mate tea is made)

CLICK for more american holly


hiiragi no hana 柊の花 (ひいらぎのはな) flower of the holly
Osmanthus heterophyllus

hiiragi sasu 柊挿す (ひいらぎさす) piercing with a holly
and some setsubun riutals, February 3.

. hiiragi ochiba 柊落葉(ひいらぎおちば)
fallen leaves of the holly .

..... mochi ochiba 冬青落葉(もちおちば)
Ilex pedunculosa
kigo for early summer


A green prickly tree with berries that become red late autumn/fall/early winter. Most associated with Christmas in English-speaking countries, but known in many others.
Kate Steere.

Leaf: Alternate, simple, and persistant, thickened and leathery, eliptical in shape, 2 to 4 inches long, dark green and shiny above, pale green below with entire or spiney-toothed margins.

Flower: Dioecious, dull green-white, male flowers on 3 to 7 flowered cymes, female flowers are solitary with a pleasant odor. Flowers apparent April to June.

Fruit: A berrylike drupe, red, rarely yellow when ripe, 1/4 inch in diameter, containing ribbed nutlets. Maturing September to October, persisting on tree into winter.

Twig: Slender with rust-colored pubescence.

Bark: Light gray, with prominent warts.

Form: A small tree, with a thick crown and pyramidal form, usually with branches to the ground.


One of the most famous English-speaking Christmas hymns :
"The Holly and the Ivy"
This is one of a series of medieval English carols on the subject of the rivalry between the holly and ivy vying for mastery in the forest. These two plants came to be associated with the sexes, holly being masculine and ivy feminine. In this carol, the holly is used to represent various aspects of Christ's life and the ivy is not discussed at all.

1. The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

Read it all here:
http://ingeb.org/spiritua/theholly.html (including Japanese translation!).


Mythology and Folklore of the Holly

For most of us the sight of holly leaves and berries is inextricably linked with Christmas, whether we celebrate this as a secular or a religious festivity. Christmas brings with it many traditions and it is probably the one time when many of us still practice at least a few old folklore customs today. Indeed in some parts of Britain holly was formerly referred to merely as Christmas, and in pre-Victorian times 'Christmas trees' meant holly bushes.

Holly was also brought into the house variously to protect the home from malevolent faeries or to allow faeries to shelter in the home without friction between them and the human occupants. Whichever of prickly-leaved or smooth-leaved holly was brought into the house first dictated whether the husband or wife respectively were to rule the household for the coming year.

In Celtic mythology the Holly King was said to rule over the half of the year from the summer to the winter solstice, at which time the Oak King defeated the Holly King to rule for the time until the summer solstice again. These two aspects of the Nature god were later incorporated into Mummers' plays traditionally performed around Yuletide. The Holly King was depicted as a powerful giant of a man covered in holly leaves and branches, and wielding a holly bush as a club. He may well have been the same archetype on which the Green Knight of Arthurian legend was based, and to whose challenge Gawain rose during the Round Table's Christmas celebrations.

Read a lot more interesting facts here:

About the celtic origins of the Holly
In addition to being associated with the Sun God (Saturn) in ancient Rome, holly was important in Pagan/Druidic religion and customs. Under many Pagan religions, it was customary to place holly leaves and branches around their dwellings during winter. This was intended as a kindly and hospitable gesture; they believed that the tiny fairies which inhabited the forests could come into their homes and use the holly as shelter against the cold. This may actually have had some basis in fact, as holly growing in the wild is often used as shelter by small animals, primarily insects.

Read more here:

Worldwide use

The American Holly
CLICK for more american holly

Native Americans used wood from the American holly for many uses and the berries were used for bartering and decorating. The American holly was also a favorite of George Washington's and he planted many throughout his properties. Wood from American holly trees is still used today in woodworking projects, most often for decorative inlays in cabinetry.

The American holly is an pyramid-shaped evergreen that can grow to be 40-50 feet in height but often the trees are pruned to serve as attractive hedges. These slow-growing trees develop small white flowers in late spring and bear bright-red berries in fall that last throughout the winter. However, the berries only grow on female American holly trees and the male trees must be nearby to pollinate the female's flowers and ensure fruiting.

Read more here:

Ilex vomitoria,
commonly known as Yaupon or Yaupon Holly
, is a species of holly that is native to southeastern North America. The word yaupon was derived from its Catawban name, yopún, which is a diminutive form of the word yop, meaning "tree". Another common name, Cassina, was borrowed from the Timucua language (despite this, it usually refers to Ilex cassine).
The fruit are an important food for many birds ...

Native Americans used the leaves and stems to brew a tea, commonly thought to be called asi or black drink for male-only purification and unity rituals. The ceremony included vomiting, and Europeans incorrectly believed that it was Ilex vomitoria that caused it (hence the Latin name). The active ingredients are actually caffeine and theobromine, and the vomiting was either learned or as a result of the great quantities in which they drank the beverage coupled with fasting.
Others believe the Europeans improperly assumed the black drink to be the tea made from Ilex vomitoria when it was likely an entirely different drink made from various roots and herbs and did have emetic properties.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Yaupons thick with red,
Bright sun shining on their fruit,
Mockingbirds on guard...

- Shared by Steve Weiss -
Haiku Culture Magazine, 2013



"mock-plum", finetooth holly, winterberry, ume modoki 梅擬, 梅嫌, 落霜紅
Ilex serrata and similar species
tsuru-ume-modoki 蔓梅擬 bittersweet. Celastrus orbiculatus
..... tsurumodoki, tsuru modoki つるもどき bittersweet

kigo for late autumn.


Japanese Winterberry 黐の木(もちのき)科
Dedicated to those born on November 1. Also a Symbol of Wisdom.


hiiragi no hana 柊の花 (ひいらぎのはな) flower of the holly
Osmanthus heterophyllus
kigo for early winter

Things found on the way

"Heigh ho! sing heigh ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly

from 'As You Like It' by William Shakespeare


a rustle
in the holly-
two squirrels

Kate Steere

Related words

***** Dog Winterberry (inu umemodoki 犬梅モドキ)
Ilex serrata form. argutidens



hiiragi no hana 柊の花 (ひいらぎのはな) flower of the holly
Osmanthus heterophyllus





Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

oni to hiiragi 鬼と柊 Demon and the Holly branch
Otsu-E 大津絵 Paintings from Otsu

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Ibaraki
行方郡 Namegata district 麻生町 Aso town

. Setsubun - oni wa soto 鬼は外 "Demons, get out!" .
On the day of Setsubun 節分 the Seasonal Divide people make special offerings, especially of hiiragi柊 a holly branch and put them on butsudan 仏壇 the Buddhist family altar, the kamidana 神棚 shelf of the Gods, for the 井戸の神 Ido no Kami and other places to make sure, the demons do not come in.
The offerings of iwashi イワシ are eaten by fuku no kami 福の神 the God of Good Luck.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Miyagi

tarayooju 多羅葉樹 / タラヨウジュ / Ilex latifolia
The Ilex tree in the compound of 塩釜神社 Shiogama Jinja is called
nanja monja, nanjamonja なんじゃもんじゃ "what is this?"
In former times, when bokesen 卜占 divinations were made, a leaf of this tree was roasted.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Shiga
tozan アトザン afterbirth
The afterbirth is burried shallow under a holly tree. Thus the sun will shine on it plenty and the child will not get bloody dysentery.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .