Plant types and subtypes: Trees & Shrubs, Shrubs, Deciduous
Light Requirements: sun, part-sun, part-shade
Water Use: low, medium, high
Soil Moisture: moist, wet
Soil Description: acid, rich, average, loam, clay, sand, gravel/rock
Bloom Time: April, May, June, July
Bloom Color: white, yellow, green
Leaf Color: green
Hardiness Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Additional Tags: attracts birds, attracts butterflies, berries, bog plant, colonizing, fall interest, hedging plant, pond margin plant, rock garden plant, shade garden plant, showy fruit, stream margin plant, swamp plant, wetland plant, woodland plant
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Ilex verticillataAlso known as:
Ilex bronxensis, Ilex fastigiata
Common winterberry is a deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub that will rarely exceed a height of 12 feet. The finely toothed, green leaves are narrow and oblong, turning shades of yellow, maroon or brown in fall before dropping off. In late spring and early summer, small, whitish, greenish or yellowish, inconspicuous flowers bloom on the axils. They are followed by an abundance of bright red berries ,on female plants, which persist through fall and well into winter.
Ilex verticillata can be easily grown in moist to wet, acidic soil, yet it is also tolerant of dry conditions, making it extremely versatile. Common winterberry has a good tolerance for water-logged conditions, will adapt to light or heavy soils, but prefers loam. Neutral to alkaline soils are to be avoided. This is an understory plant but its form benefits from sunnier conditions. The adaptability and slow growth rate of this holly make it an excellent hedge plant. In optimal conditions, common winterberry spreads by suckers to form thickets. As with most hollies, male and female plants are needed to produce berries. One male plant will be sufficient to fertilize a dozen female plants within a 40 foot radius. Flowers appear on new growth, so any pruning should be done in late winter to early spring. May bloom as early as April and as late as July, depending on geographic location. Zones 3-8
Propagation is easiest by digging up and transplanting root suckers in fall once the plant goes dormant. It may also be propagated from softwood cuttings taken in late spring to early summer. Seed germination is difficult and slow. Stratification will help. It will take several years to determine the sex of plants produced from seed.
The fruit of common winterberry are especially attractive in the winter landscape. Branches with berries are used in floral arrangements. The fruit provide food to a wide variety of birds and small mammals. All in all, this is a highly adaptable species with year round visual interest.
Native Range & Classification
Recorded County Distribution: USDA data
AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT
USDA Endangered Status:
- Endangered: IA
- Exploitably Vulnerable: NY
- Threatened: AK
|Species||Ilex verticillata||common winterberry|