Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Ilex verticillata (L.) Gray
EtymologyIlex, from the Latin name for Quercus ilex (Holm oak), an evergreen species with spiny leaves that resemble holly leaves; verticillata means whorled, from the Latin: verticill = the whirl of a spindle + atus = suffix for resemblance.
Synonyms (Common Name)Common Winterberry, Christmasberry, Redberry, Black Alder, False Alder
DescriptionA deciduous, broad-leaved shrub, winterberry has gray bark, slender stems, and grows up to 16' tall. It is most striking in autumn and early winter with its plentiful, bright red berries hugging the branches.
Wetland indicator statusFACW+
Plant Heightto 16 feet
LeavesDeciduous, alternate, simple, finely-toothed, 1 1/2 - 3"long; leaf shape is variable: elliptical to round-ovate to lanceolate, broadest in the middle, with a distinct tip; somewhat leathery; green until frost, then turning purplish-black.
Flower/InflorescenceMale and female flowers on different plants, white, tiny (less than 1/4"), on very short stalks, in leaf axils; male flowers in small clusters, female singly or few.
Flowering PeriodMay-August
FruitSmall (1/4"), bright red berry on very short stem, arranged singly or in false whorls on twigs; persistent calyx with lobes that are ciliate (margins fringed with hairs).
Fruiting PeriodSeptember-October, persisting into early winter.
HabitatShrub swamps, wooded swamps, wet woods, pond and stream margins.
RangeNewfoundland to Minnesota; south to Georgia, Mississippi, and Missouri.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett