The hollyleaf cherry is the most widely distributed subspecies of the native holly in California. It grows in the chaparral, sage scrub and oak woodland plant communities. Rounded leaves are deep green and have strongly serrated margins; large clusters of softly fragrant cream colored flowers occur in spring. Many fruit are produced each year that attract birds and other wildlife.
Hollyleaf cherry is well suited for erosion control on slopes, habitat restoration and in ornamental gardens as background shrubs. It is also one of the best choices for use as a medium to large clipped hedge where it can be clipped for very neat character. Old plants can grow quite large in wild habitat, but plants in the garden are usually much smaller and can be pruned to any size. It is well adapted to heat, sun and low amounts of summer moisture.