winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Aquifoliaceae, the holly family

How to recognize winterberry. This species, a type of holly, is a wetland shrub with alternately arranged finely serrate leaves that are patterned with deeply impressed veins on the upper surface (termed “rugose”). Like other hollies, winterberry is dioecious, with male and female flowers on different plants. The most recognizable individuals are females in fruit.


Flowers and fruits. The flowers are white, approx. 5 mm. wide, with fused petals. The flowers are either staminate (male) or pistillate (female), produced on different individuals. Below, see the two types: male on the left, female right.

winterberry flowers

The fruits are bright red drupes that often remain on the plant well into winter.

Winterberry drupes are bright red.
October 14, 2022,, Delaware County Ohio

Scanned Image from an Old Book
(Flora of West Virginia, by P.D. Strausbaugh and Earl L. Core)


Ooh ooh. I have a question!

Hey, pretty drupes…can you eat them? No? Well then, is the plant good for anything, human commerce-wise?

Definitely not edible as the drupes will cause vomiting, but the winter branches are occasionally sold as Christmas decorations. 

Winterberry for sale.


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