Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Inkberry, Gallberry
Ilex glabra 'Shamrock'

Family: Aquifoliaceae (a-kwee-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ilex (EYE-leks) (Info)
Species: glabra (GLAY-bruh) (Info)
Cultivar: Shamrock

One vendor has this plant for sale.


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

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)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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By Rickwebb
Thumbnail #1 of Ilex glabra by Rickwebb

By Rickwebb
Thumbnail #2 of Ilex glabra by Rickwebb

By Rickwebb
Thumbnail #3 of Ilex glabra by Rickwebb

By Rickwebb
Thumbnail #4 of Ilex glabra by Rickwebb

By Rickwebb
Thumbnail #5 of Ilex glabra by Rickwebb

By Rickwebb
Thumbnail #6 of Ilex glabra by Rickwebb

By Rickwebb
Thumbnail #7 of Ilex glabra by Rickwebb

There are a total of 8 photos.
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5 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Dec 27, 2013, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

This is the most commonly sold cultivar of Inkberry Holly in southeast PA and in DE. It has glossy, handsome foliage that is smaller and narrower than most any Inkberry with a little brighter green color. Many plants are female and bear lots of the black berries (drupes) that are good for birds but slightly toxic to humans, like all other holly species berries. It is a soft plant with flexible branching, unlike the stiff Japanese Holly that hurts when it pokes a person. It can be leggy or branched to the ground, depending. I often like shrubs or bushes to be sort of leggy, depending.

Positive azigoba On Feb 8, 2012, azigoba from BARRYVILLE, NY wrote:

Beautiful and very robust.
Deer won't touch it year round.
Can suffer from winter sun scald.

Neutral RichHurley On Jan 5, 2010, RichHurley from New Freedom, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

The stems of the inkberry are very brittle. I will probably have to replace two of the three I planted last year as they were badly damaged by the weight of melting snow. The snow had been almost two feet of powder snow when it fell but we had a warm spell which caused it to melt quickly and become very heavy. That heaviness practically destroyed the two shrubs not protected by a bay window. In the future, I will have to construct something to keep snow off of the inkberries. I have not had any snow damage with any of the other dozen or so Ilex shrubs I have -- just Ilex glabra.

Positive donnacreation On Oct 23, 2009, donnacreation from Sumter, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

These small trees grow up to 15 ft, and are very common in SC wetlands. Although they break easily in gusty winds, they regrow quickly, and provide profuse delicate and fragrant flowers in early spring.

Positive CARPE_DIEM On Mar 29, 2009, CARPE_DIEM from Chicago, IL wrote:

A nice alternative to boxwoods, less susceptible to winterburn in 5b/6a Chicago, also a deeper green color.

Neutral soozin On Jun 22, 2004, soozin from Lowell, MA wrote:

After winter temperatures of -20 degrees Farenheit and wind chills -30 to -40, our four inkberry bushes were very, very slow to recover. As temperatures warmed in March and April, all the leaves turned brown and fell off. It wasn't until about mid June that new growth began to appear, but all four now seem to be rapidly recovering. I would like to give this plant a positive rating, but I was pretty discouraged in the spring when they were brown and then barren while everything else was greening up and blooming. They are very attractive shrubs and an otherwise great alternative to yews and other overused plants. In less severe climates, they should remain evergreen, from what I understand.

Positive MotherNature4 On Mar 17, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Better known as gallberry in Florida, it is well know as a medicinal plant. Its common name is given for the very bitter taste of the ripe black berries.

This attractive plant grows in flatwoods and boggy areas, and would be a nice addition to a natural landscape.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 5, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Found this lovely shrub at Callaway Gardens. It is great as a hedge and/or in woody settings, as long as the soil is kept moist consistently, like in a stream area. Native to the U.S. Southeast.


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

Athens, Alabama
Glastonbury, Connecticut
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Bartow, Florida
Chicago, Illinois
Petersburg, Indiana
Valparaiso, Indiana
Tyngsboro, Massachusetts
Barryville, New York
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
New Freedom, Pennsylvania
Sumter, South Carolina
Alexandria, Virginia

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