Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Winterberry Holly, Black Alder
Ilex verticillata

Family: Aquifoliaceae (a-kwee-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ilex (EYE-leks) (Info)
Species: verticillata (ver-ti-si-LAH-tuh) (Info)

Synonym:Ilex bronxensis
Synonym:Ilex fastigiata
Synonym:Ilex verticillata var. cyclophylla
Synonym:Ilex verticillata var. fastigiata
Synonym:Ilex verticillata var. padifolia

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

11 members have or want this plant for trade.

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6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

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
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens
Provides winter interest

Soil pH requirements:
4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
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

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There are a total of 12 photos.
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2 positives
1 neutral
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive suentommy On Sep 20, 2010, suentommy from Souderton, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This is a great plant for an explosion of color. I planted large cherry laurel bushes in front of my porch and then planted winterberry in front of it. This makes a beautiful sight every winter. I have evergreen hollies as well, opaca and cornuta, but planting the winterberry in front of the cherry laurel makes a big impact in winter and the birds love it. We live on a hill and the planting lights up the area even on a gray day. A bonus is that they are native plants.

Positive claypa On Apr 30, 2009, claypa from West Pottsgrove, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Spectacular in winter with lots of bright red berries on female shrubs, this native American shrub has lots of selections and a few hybrids with other hollies. Unlike evergreen hollies, these are ideal for very wet locations. Birds and other wildlife eat the fruit in late winter here, but the fruit appears in late summer before the leaves fall.

Seeds sprouted after a year for me; semi-hardwood cuttings work, but mist would probably make it easier.

Negative CTpalmguy On Nov 9, 2008, CTpalmguy from South Lyme, CT (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant is way overused in Connecticut. If you're going to plant a holly, why plant one that loses its leaves in winter? I think having evergreen foliage is what makes hollies so interesting and attractive... it's nice to have green in the dead of winter. There are so many attractive, fully-evergreen cultivars in the Ilex genus that could be used in place of winterberry.

Neutral melody On Aug 1, 2006, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Information only, I have not grown this palnt.

This shrub is decidous and the small white flowers are located in the leaf axils.

The leaves are about 2" long, toothed, but not spiney.

The fruita are berry-like and red, located on very short stalks, singly or in clusters along the stems.

Blooms June through August, and seems to like anything from swamps to dry thickets.

found in Ontario, east to Newfoundland, south to Florida and west to Texas..and north through Arkansas to Minnesota.


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

, (2 reports)
Farmington, Connecticut
Ingleside, Illinois
Clermont, Kentucky
Georgetown, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Nicholasville, Kentucky
Paris, Kentucky
Versailles, Kentucky
Litchfield, Maine
Cumberland, Maryland
Oakland, Maryland
Hopkinton, Massachusetts
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Cole Camp, Missouri
Eunice, Missouri
Munsonville, New Hampshire
Holly Springs, North Carolina
Greencastle, Pennsylvania
Pottstown, Pennsylvania
Souderton, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Chester, Virginia
Leesburg, Virginia
Ames Lake, Washington

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