Ilex verticillata

Native to most of the United States, the winterberry is a small spreading shrub that can get up to 10’ tall but forms dense thickets by root suckering. It is in the holly family, but the leaves of common winterberry are not shaped with sharp teeth like other hollies and are not evergreen. The purplish green foliage turns black, in fact, with the first frost. The inconspicuous flowers, however, are followed by dense clusters of bright red berries that remain on the branches throughout winter. These berries are an excellent source of food for wildlife; however, all Ilex species may be somewhat toxic if ingested. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a person’s age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility.


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