Crow’s Nest – Plants we love: Winterberry holly

December 2, 2018

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

I’ve written about how much I like winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) enough times that some of the links are lost to history, except this one.

We’ve moved since we had a winterberry holly outside our kitchen window, so of course I planted another outside our new kitchen window. Here it is!

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Most nurseries carry the more common cultivated varieties where the female plants have abundant, showy fruit that lasts long on the shrub (but therefore might not be as beneficial for bird food as naturally-occurring varieties). I’ve also made sure to plant some open-pollinated plants at the edges of our wet woods, and included some of the not-showy male plants to ensure that the insects will pollinate the female flowers that make these fantastic berries.

I also like the yellow fall color of winterberry, and while not showy in flower or summer foliage, it is more than competent as a summer shrub. But we all appreciate the winter show, which will last until the fruit ripens and robins and bluebirds strip them.