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FutureStarrAWinterberry Ilex Verticillata
Warning: All Ilex species may be somewhat toxic if ingested. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personï¿½s age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantï¿½s different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.
Ilex verticillata – the American winterberry – is prized as an ornamental plant in gardens for the midwinter splash of bright color from densely packed berries, whose visibility is heightened by the loss of foliage; therefore it is popular even where other, evergreen, hollies are also grown. The bare branches covered in berries are also popular for cutting and use in floral arrangements.Valued for its heavy fruit set and persistence, Ilex verticillata 'Winter Red' is widely regarded as one of the best winterberries. Slow-growing, this multi-stemmed, deciduous winterberry holly features a shapely oval form and produces abundant small greenish-white flowers in late spring or early summer. They are followed by a profusion of magnificent cherry red berries from fall throughout winter. Extremely attractive, they enliven the winter landscape and often persist into early spring unless eaten by birds. The foliage of lustrous, leathery, dark green leaves does not develop any appreciable fall color. 'Winter Red' is a female plant and needs a male pollinator to produce the attractive bright red berries. Generally, one male winterberry will be sufficient for pollinating 9-10 female plants. Since the blooms come late, 'Winter Red' requires a late-blooming male as a pollinator (such as 'Southern Gentleman' or 'Apollo').
Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is a native, woody shrub suited for use in rain gardens. Rain gardens are landscape features that help to protect downstream water quality by capturing stormwater runoff and allowing it to filter through the soil. Winterberry and other plants used in rain gardens filter water, provide wildlife habitat, and enhance landscape beauty. Ilex means “Holm oak” or “evergreen oak” in Latin. As late as the 1800s, the term Ilex was applied both to a southern European evergreen oak (Quercus ilex today) and to holly species, likely because the leaves were evergreen and similar in shape. The species name, verticillata, is derived from the Latin adjective verticillate which means “having whorls”, perhaps referring the whorls of berries around the plant stems. (Source: hgic.clemson.edu)