Ilex verticillata
Common name: 
Winterberry Holly
Michigan Holly
Christmas Berry
Black Alder
I-leks ver-ti-si-LA-ta
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Deciduous shrub, to 10 ft (3 m), spreading branches, oval to broad-rounded, suckers and forms multistemmed clumps.  Leaves alternate, simple, variable shaped (elliptic to oblong-lanceolate), 3.5-7 cm long, tip acute or acuminate, base wedge-shaped (cuneate), margin singly or doubly serrate, dark green above, usually pubescent below, at least on the veins.  Dioecious -male and female plants.  Flowers white, 4-7 parted, short stalked, male flowers 3-10 per cluster, female flowers singly or 2-3 per cluster.  Fruit globose, bright red, about 6 mm wide, often in pair.
  • Sun to partial shade.  Adapts to many soil types, best in moist, organic soil.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3   A hardy holly. Its native range extends over much of eastern and central North America.  Many selections available in commerce but the choices are more limited in the western U.S. 
  • A few cultivars:
    • 'Red Sprite'  -  shrub, 3-5 ft tall (0.9-1.5 m), compact, rounded form, lustrous dark green, large bright red fruit
    • 'Sunsplash'  -  shrub, a few leaves are all green but most are variegated with irregular yellow mottling, bright red fruit.
    • 'Winter Red'  -  shrub, to about 8 ft (2.4 m) tall and wide, suckering, leaves dark green, heavy producer of bright red fruit
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, summer

    plant habit, summer

  • leaves


  • plant habit, late summer, fruiting

    plant habit, late summer, fruiting

  • fruiting branches

    fruiting branches

  • fruit and leaves

    fruit and leaves

  • plant habit, fall

    plant habit, fall

  • fruit, winter

    fruit, winter

  • plant habit, late winter

    plant habit, late winter