Description from Flora of China
Trees or shrubs, evergreen or deciduous. Leaves alternate, rarely opposite; leaf blade leathery, papery, or membranous, margin entire, serrate, or spinose; stipules minute, persistent or caducous, scar callose; petiole present, rarely absent. Inflorescence a cyme usually of order 1, 2, or 3(-5), respectively composed of a maximum of 1, 3, or 7(-31) developed flowers, axillary, solitary on current year’s branchlets or fasciculate on second year’s branchlets. Plants dioecious. Flowers hypogynous, regular, small, unisexual, by stamens or ovary abortive, 4-6(-23)-merous; calyx persistent; corolla often white or cream, rarely green, yellow, pink, or red; petals imbricate, mostly connate at base up to half of their length. Male flowers: calyx 4-8-lobed; petals 4-8; stamens isomerous, alternating with petals, epipetalous; anthers oblong-ovoid, introrse, longitudinally dehiscent; rudimentary ovary subglobose or pulvinate, rostrate. Female flowers: calyx 4-8-lobed; petals 4-8; staminodes sagittate or cordate, isomerous, alternating with petals, epipetalous; ovary superior, ovoid, 4-8(-10)-loculed, rarely pubescent; style rarely developed; stigma capitate, discoid, or columnar. Fruit a drupe, red, brown, or black (or green in Ilex chapaensis), usually globose; exocarp membranous or papery; mesocarp fleshy. Pyrenes (1-)4-6(-23); endocarp smooth, leathery, woody, or stony, striate, striate-sulcate, or rugose, and/or pitted.
Chen Shukun & Feng Yuxing. 1999. Aquifoliaceae. In: Chen Shukun, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 45(2): ii-ix, 1-296.
Ilex emarginata Thunberg (in Murray, Syst. Veg., ed. 14, 168. 1784) is the basionym of Eurya emarginata (Thunberg) Makino in the Theaceae (see Fl. China 12: 460. 2007).
Ilex kingiana Cockerell (Torreya 11: 264. 1911) is a synonym of I. insignis J. D. Hooker (1875), not Heer (1869), but the occurrence of this species in China (Yunnan, 1933, Comber) requires confirmation.
Ilex leiboensis Z. M. Tan (Bull. Bot. Res., Harbin 8(1): 117. 1988) and I. serrata Thunberg subsp. cathayensis T. R. Dudley (Holly Soc. J. 9(4): 5. 1991) are synonyms of Celastrus hirsutus H. F. Comber in the Celastraceae (see p. 472).
Ilex nokoensis Hayata (J. Coll. Sci. Imp. Univ. Tokyo 30(1): 56. 1911) is the basionym of Symplocos nokoensis (Hayata) Kanehira in the Symplocaceae (see Fl. China 15: 244. 1996).
Ilex racemosa Oliver is the basionym of Perrottetia racemosa (Oliver) Loesener in the Dipentodontaceae (see p. 495).
Ilex rarasanensis Sasaki (Trans. Nat. Hist. Soc. Formosa 21: 154. 1931), described from Taiwan, could not be treated here because we did not see the type material.
One genus and 500-600 species: tropical and subtropical to temperate regions of both the N and S Hemispheres, mainly in the tropical regions of Central and South America and Asia; 204 species (149 endemic) in China, distributed in regions south of the Chang Jiang and Qinling Mountains, mainly in S and SW China.
(Authors: Chen Shukun (陈书坤), Ma Haiying (马海英), Feng Yuxing (俸宇星); Gabrielle Barriera, Pierre-Andr?Loizeau 4)