Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Winterberry Holly, Black Alder
Ilex verticillata 'Earlibright'

Family: Aquifoliaceae (a-kwee-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ilex (EYE-leks) (Info)
Species: verticillata (ver-ti-si-LAH-tuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Earlibright
Hybridized by Polly Hill; Year of Registration or Introduction: 1975

One vendor has this plant for sale.


Unknown - Tell us

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
By simple layering

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Click thumbnail
to view:

By ViburnumValley
Thumbnail #1 of Ilex verticillata by ViburnumValley

By ViburnumValley
Thumbnail #2 of Ilex verticillata by ViburnumValley


1 positive
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive ViburnumValley On Nov 25, 2010, ViburnumValley from Scott County, KY (Zone 5b) wrote:

'Earlibright' winterberry (also sometimes listed as 'Earlybright') is one of many excellent plants evaluated and selected by the late Polly Hill of Martha's Vineyard.

'Earlibright' has large reddish orange fruit that indeed color up quite early compared to the legions of additional winterberry selections. This stands out in early fall, even before total leaf drop, and is a harbinger of the bounty of fruit to come as the rest of the varieties begin to color and reveal their treasures.

This is another selection that is somewhat taller than wide, but needs no additional assistance other than reasonable moisture during the driest times in the growing season. Like all winterberries, it prefers wetness and acid soils on the sandy side. I have none of these conditions here in central KY, yet I am rewarded amply and annually by the reliable performance of these plants.

Polly Hill left quite a legacy of horticultural endeavor at her property (formerly Barnard's Inn Farm, now Polly Hill Arboretum), and the series of winterberries she named rank up there with the showiest plants for landscape interest during those cold bleak months when gardens can seem too dreary to enjoy.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Vincennes, Indiana
Clermont, Kentucky
Crestwood, Kentucky
Georgetown, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky

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