Winterberry Holly, Black Alder 'Red Sprite'

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)
Cultivar: Red Sprite
Additional cultivar information:(aka Compacta, Macrocarpa, Nana)
Hybridized by L. J. Sicbaldi
Registered or introduced: 1980
Synonym:Ilex verticillata var. nana




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

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

Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 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:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

Bear, Delaware

Toccoa, Georgia

Hennepin, Illinois

Indianapolis, Indiana

Vincennes, Indiana

Clermont, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

West Chester, Pennsylvania

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Feb 4, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

'Red Sprite' is commonly planted in southeast Pennsylvania, usually with the male of 'Jim Dandy' that also usually gets about 4 to 6 feet high in landscapes. They are both compact selections with smaller, rounder leaves than the straight species. Red Sprite usually bears the big red fruit well in late summer into winter.

However, I found a landscape that was designed by a landscape architect that unfortunately must have planted all eight Winterberry shrubs as the female 'Red Sprite' with no males. Thus, I find full-grown handsome shrubs about 6 feet high and wider that are bearing only a few red fruit.


On Jan 21, 2007, ViburnumValley from Scott County, KY (Zone 5b) wrote:

'Red Sprite' winterberry is an excellent deciduous holly for smaller landscapes. It is much more compact than most other winterberries, and I think it shows off a more silvery gray bark as well.

The only drawback I'd note is that it seems to be stripped of fruit sooner than any other winterberry around central KY.

'Red Sprite' only asks for similar consideration of wetter site conditions (like by a downspout), and acid soil if you've got it. It has done perfectly fine on circumneutral clay loam soils here. Oh, and like the rest of the female winterberries, it likes a cordial male plant for pollination. 'Jim Dandy' will play this role just right.