Several plants that fit the description of having hollylike leaves. Holly (Ilex spp.) leaves are usually thick, dark green with at least a few prickly spines. Plants with hollylike leaves often have a species name of ilicifolia or aquifolia, meaning "leaves similar to holly leaves." This type leaf in combination with yellow flowers isn't hard to find. There are varieties of trees, shrubs and perennials that bear both hollylike leaves and yellow flowers.
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The hollyleaf redberry (Rhamnus ilicifolia) is an evergreen shrub or small tree that grows 15 feet tall. It has roundish spiny leaves resembling holly. It has nondescript yellow flowers followed by bright-red berries. It's native to the Western U.S. and is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 7 to 10. It needs little supplemental irrigation and tolerates heat and drought well.
Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) is an evergreen shrub native to the temperate areas of the Pacific Northwest. It's Oregon's state flower. They have hollylike leaves with several spines, and are dense and brushy in overall appearance. Yellow flower clusters emerge in the spring and are quite showy. However, this plant is best known for its clusters of edible, small, blue fruits. Even though Oregon grape's species name suggests a hollylike leaf, most Mahonia species have similar leaves and flowers.
The hollyleaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia) is native to California's coastal areas. The leaves are dark green, spiny and sometimes curled under. The trees grow from 8 feet to 30 feet tall, depending on the growing conditions. They have creamy-yellow, fragrant flowers in spikes, although they are not particularly showy. They bear a cherrylike fruit that is edible and delicious, but it is mostly pit and not much flesh.
The hollyleaf bursage (Franseria ilicifolia) also has the alternate botanical name Ambrosia ilicifolia. It's an evergreen shrub native to the deserts and mountains of western Arizona. It seldom grows taller than 3 feet. It has long, spiny brittle leaves that are retained even after they dry up, and will bleach almost white. It forms greenish-yellow flowers on spikes that mature as hooked burrs.
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