Investigating adaptation and defence – spines on holly leaves


Holly trees are well known for their spiny leaves. In this investigation, students consider whether there is a relationship between the number of spines on a leaf and its height above the ground. To do this, students will investigate small branches of holly, cut at different heights from a large unpruned holly tree. Students will randomly choose a number of leaves from each height and calculate the average number of spines that leaves from each chosen height.

This practical was developed for the Scottish Highers and is in the appropriate format, but the protocol can equally well be used for other UK specifications.

This practical will help students:

a) develop knowledge and understanding of structural defence mechanisms in plants

b)  develop problem solving skills, and skills in processing information, including making using calculations where appropriate.

Download the full protocol from the link on the right.

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