Plant ID please

Harwinton, CT

I found this bush growing on my property. Can anyone ID it for me?

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Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

I have a couple guesses - I suggest posting this on the trees/shrubs/conifers forum they will know in an instant

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

Some will know it in an instant here! C'mon, wha - stick that neck out...

Ilex verticillata - Winterberry Holly. What a great northeastern native.

Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

ahh - you ventured over - I would have guessed close and been wrong:)

I would have been better with a Japanese maple:)

Harwinton, CT

Viburnum Valley . . . You are right! I Googled Winterberry Holly just to be sure and thats what it is. Now, isn't that a cultivated shrub? I found this one growing up against a young oak tree in the woods in the back of my house. How difficult would it be to transplant it to where it may be enjoyed?

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

Yay! Membership in Holly Society of America pays off...

I am teasing you a bit, playinindirt - I have been growing this species for about 30 years, and have 20+ named selections growing here at the Valley. Growing deciduous forms of holly can be an obsession, but it is a lifetime full of reward and joy.

Yes, Winterberry Holly has been cultivated as an ornamental plant for a while - since 1736.

I haven't tried digging one up from the wild, so I can't give you personal experience. However, since this can be a colonizing/suckering plant, you should eventually have success with whatever you are able to extricate when you dig it. I'd say your challenge will be separating it from the other woody plants with which it is likely entwined.

In propagating and nursery production, Ilex verticillata tends to have a denser root system than many plants, so there is good chance of re-establishment. You haven't shown the whole plant - how big is it? The smaller it is (younger), the easier it is to have success with a transplant. If it is bigger/older, you can still have success - but you will likely observe dieback of the crown, and resprouts from the root system and trunk.

Of course - all the "right" answers are involved with how much effort you wish to expend. If I were you there, I'd enjoy that one right where it is, and plant another female selection where it can be enjoyed. If I then enjoyed that so much that I couldn't stand it, I'd explore how to root cuttings from the woodland plant and then grow them up for planting in the formal garden.

But, that's just me...

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Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

VV's pics show some lovely, heavily bearing cultivars. I have planted some verticillatas in dappled shade and they still have a pretty good amount of berries as long as no one thrashes away the males, which has happened once.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

RosemaryK mentions a good and key point - having a male flowered plant in reasonable proximity is an important component of having an enjoyable fruiting display with Ilex verticillata.

Identities of the images provided above:

1. Ilex verticillata 'Tiasquam'
2. Ilex verticillata 'Winter Gold'
3. Ilex verticillata 'Shortcake'
4. Ilex verticillata 'Goldfinch'
5. Ilex verticillata 'Winter Red'

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

They're all really nice. I like my Winter Red also because it was probably the first of my bunch to have berries.

Your pic of winter Gold makes me want one now.

Since we're on hollies, what do you think of Ilex pedunculosa, longstalk holly? I planted a pair of twigs three years ago, and it is finally fruiting. It gets listed in some places as native, but I think that's because it was adopted quickly by the colonists in this region.

In this temperature zone it is difficult to find evergreen hollies that tolerate some shade and drying winter winds. Since a lot of them would be boring, I could use ideas for some other holly companions. There's no harm trying a Buford, I suppose, but it is probably doomed, and the meserve grows OK but not sensationally.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

Ilex pedunculosa is a very nice large shrubby broadleaf evergreen holly, and I think the long-stalked fruit are spectacular. It is not a plant that I've had particular success with, but I keep trying. Each HSA meeting, I buy another one at the plant auction. I've managed to overwinter this last one, and I may even get to transplant it to a permanent location. It was introduced to the United States in 1892 - probably through the Arnold Arboretum - from Japan, Korea, and China. It is not native in the least.

Since Ilex opaca is native in Massachusetts, I'd use that plant (and maybe Hemlock and/or Taxus) as your shady site windbreak - so that you have a better shot at establishing other selections by protecting them from the winds you mention. American Holly does perfectly fine in shade - albeit more lightly branched than in full sun - and grows at a reasonable enough clip that it wouldn't be decades before it was useful.

There is a gentleman named Bill Cannon who lives on Cape Cod between Barnstable and Brewster, and he grows so many different hollies that it isn't even funny. He probably has slightly balmier temps than you, but probably a lot more winds.

Here are some images of Longstalk Holly (to die for) and of Bill Cannon's collection.

Thumbnail by ViburnumValley Thumbnail by ViburnumValley Thumbnail by ViburnumValley Thumbnail by ViburnumValley Thumbnail by ViburnumValley
Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Wow! Those are spectacular hollies, indeed. My interest in holly has already grown, but those pics are truly an inspiration. It is colder here, but I am not bothering my neighbors about moving their brushpiles or their overgrown areas, so perhaps I can expand the holly collection. Hemlock requires a lot of upkeep in this region, and I do grow taxus.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Thanks all for this thread. Playing and VV have particularly inspired me to buy three Ilex opaca cultivars--Satyr Hill, Winter Sun and Maryland Dwarf, and plan the two taller ones plus a yet unbought male for the windy area. They ought to make a good shelter for the Ilex verticillatas and other natives.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

I was hoping to inspire you to come to the 66th Annual Meeting of the Holly Society of America, next week Nov. 7-9 in New Harmony, IN. I'm a failure...

You have picked a handful of winners there. Hunt for 'Jersey Knight' or 'Big Daddy' as a couple outstanding male selections for that harem.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Thanks, though, VV, because I am inspired. I did request every remotely relevant book from my library system instead, and the glass coffee table is sagging. Perhaps I can come if it's ever in the Boston area, but for now, gardening happens one hour a day or so, and I save travel for career advancement. It must be great to see a smorgasborg of hollies in one place! This fall, the Jersey Knight plants are either sold out or very small, so it must be popular. I want to find the male ilex opaca with the shiniest leaves.

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