Common Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

Common Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) 

The Common Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), also known as the Black Alder, is a perennial, deciduous shrub in the Holly Family (Aquifoliaceae) and order Celastrales. The order name comes from the Greek for holly. The family name comes from a Latin word for "holly." The genus name is Latin for "Holly Oak." The species name is Latin for "whorled."  This plant can grow to 16 feet (4.9 meters). The tiny white flowers of this plant grow clustered in the leaf axils. Each cluster of about twelve flowers is up to ½ inch (1.3 centimeters) wide. Each flower has four to eight parts. Male and female flowers are on separate plants. It flowers from June to August.

The leaves are elliptical, up to two inches (five centimeters) long and toothed. They are arranged somewhat whorled about a brown stem.

The fruit is a ¼ inch (6 millimeter) wide, red berry containing a thick, tan nutlet.

The root system is simple.

This plant is eaten by wildlife but none of it is fit for human consumption. It is commercially grown as a landscape shrub.

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