Ilex mites is a beautiful, fast growing, evergreen tree that grows well in moist conditions but can also withstand dry conditions.This tree is widely distributed in different parts of South Africa which include Limpopo, Northwest, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
Ilex mites is characterised by a straight trunk and a rounded canopy that grows to a mature height of 5-7m when growing conditions are conducive. Younger trees have a pale grey-brown bark and as the trees mature, the bark becomes whitish grey with darker and rough spots. The leaves of this tree are glossy, dark green and is purplish-red when it first flushes. Ilex mites also produces masses of sweetly scented white flowers from October to February. The male and female flowers are produced on separate trees but only the female plants bear the shiny crimson red berries that is a great favourite with birds.It is believed to favour areas with a high water table.
The Cape holly is an ideal tree for a formal garden as the dense, bushy foliage can be clipped into any desired shape or size, but it can also be grown as an avenue tree. The root system of this tree is non-invasive making it suitable for small gardens. Ilex mites is one of the few indigenous trees that are frost tolerant. It also grows well both in full sun or semi-shade conditions.