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Ilex Species, Winterberry Holly, Black Alder, Michigan Holly, Common Winterberry

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:Prinos verticillatus
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Water Requirements:

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

Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage


Provides Winter Interest

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

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

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

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:

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

Redmond, Washington

Union Hill-Novelty Hill, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Nov 24, 2018, Adrienneny from Staten Island, NY (Zone 6b) wrote:

Easy plant, will wilt without water, can take wet feet, needs Southern Gentleman as a pollinator, for ours no more than six feet away for good berry production.


On Dec 8, 2016, RForester from Moscow,
Russia wrote:

grows well in Moscow, more than 20 years, frost was -35 C


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.


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.


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.


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.