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Common Winterberry

Ilex verticillata (L.) A. Gray.

Common winterberry
Figure 44.—Common winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Synonym.Prinos verticillata L.

Other common names.—Prinos, winterberry, Virginia winterberry, black alder, false alder, white alder, feverbush.

Habitat and range.—This native shrub is found in swamps, moist woods, and along banks of streams in Canada and the eastern United States, and westward to Wisconsin and Missouri.

Description.—Common winterberry is a shrub usually from 6 to 8 feet high (sometimes much higher) with grayish bark and smooth twigs. The leaves are from 2 to 3 inches long and about an inch wide. They are usually rather thick and sharply toothed. In autumn the leaves turn black. The flowers which appear from May to July, are small and white, the male clusters consisting of 2 to 10 flowers and the female clusters of only 1 to 3. The bright-red, shining fruits about the size of a pea and each containing about six seeds, are clustered around the stem. Branches and twigs of this plant with their bright-red berries are a familiar sight during the Christmas season when they are much used for decorative purposes.

Part used.—The bark, and to a less extent the berries, collected in autumn.

Sievers, A.F. 1930. The Herb Hunters Guide. Misc. Publ. No. 77. USDA, Washington DC.
Last update March 18, 1998 by aw