Interesting trees, hollies. Both male and female trees bear flowers, and they need insects to pollinate them and birds to spread the berries, as they have to pass through the bird’s gut before they germinate. This is why little hollies can appear in gardens where there are no trees nearby.
Once grown, it is considered unlucky to cut down a whole tree, although branches can be cut and brought indoors for firewood or for woodworking, as well as for coppicing to produce winter fodder.
Holly is a good firewood and is the original Yule log, being brought in on Christmas Eve, and kept alight for the 12 days of Christmas. Traditionally the log was lit with a leftover piece from last year’s log.
The wood , which is hard and white, was used for inlaid marquetry, for chess pieces and tool handles. In particular, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was used was used for the handles of horse whips by ploughmen and coachmen as holly was believed to have magical powers over horses .