Ilex verticillata (Winterberry Holly)
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Ilex verticillata, commonly known as winterberry holly, is a holly variety without the sharp-spined leaves of species like American holly, and is additionally deciduous unlike evergreen holly varieties. Foliage is typically glossy green with purple tinged, but darkens to purple-black after the first frost of the season. From spring into the summer, winterberry holly produces inconspicuous white flowers that attract many kinds of pollinators.
In addition, as a dioecious plant, male and female winterberries have to both be present in a site for successful pollination; you can match a female winterberry holly with a male pollinator cultivar like 'Jim Dandy' or 'Southern Gentleman' by planting one male per 10-20 females. Following successful pollination, Ilex verticillata produces attractive, bright red berries that persist through the fall and winter, supporting bird populations.
Typically reaching 8-10' tall, though occasionally pushing 15-20', winterberry holly has an upright growth habit with a vase-like or globular shape and a spread of 3-12'. Overall a very versatile plant, Ilex verticillata is resistant to salt, wet soil, and deer damage, and can be used in rain, pollinator, children's gardens as well as naturalized areas or woodland gardens. Winterberry holly is an attractive addition to any landscape, and has the ecological appeal to match.