In order to clarify whether the structures observed at the base of the petiole of the genus Ilex are colleters resulting from stipules, the anatomy, vascularization and secretions of these supposed glandular structures were analysed in nine species. This is the first report of colleters in Ilex. Stipular colleters replace the stipules in all species studied and are characterized by the presence of vascular traces. In addition to the stipular colleters, three other types of colleter were distinguished: standard and lachrymiform colleters found on the leaf teeth or crenations, and sessile colleters found on the margins of the floral bracts. Their basic structure consists of a central core of parenchymatous cells surrounded by one layer of palisade secretory epidermal cells. Histochemical tests were also performed on secretions; proteins were found in the secretions studied, but glucose was not. The glandular origin of the stipular colleters is confirmed on the basis of their position, secretions and anatomy. Analyses of the colleter-secreted proteins distinguished two different groups of Ilex species. © 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009, 160, 197–210.