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Plant Type: Dormant, bare-root

Zones:  3-9

Soil Type:  Clay, Loamy & Sandy Soils

Site Selection: Full Sun, Partial Sun

Mature Height & Width:  3-12' Height and 3-12' Spread

Growth Rate:  Slow - 8-12" per year once established

Moisture Requirements: Average to wet soils

Plant Characteristics


Ilex verticillata

Winterberry is a highly adaptable shrub which is loved by many songbirds and small mammals. Exhibiting dark green foliage, in early summer it produces inconspicuous white flowers on the densely branched stems. Brilliant red berries offset the 2-3" leaves in late summer. Berries may remain on the plant into winter. Winterberry is suitable for hedges, rain gardens and specimen plants in the landscape. Prefers acidic soil. For proper pollination, be sure to plant a minimum of three Winterberry shrubs.

Be advised, the fruits of Winterberry are poisonous to humans.

The Winterberry is also known as the Canada Holly, Michigan Holly, or Swamp Holly. 

The Winterberry is easy to grow, and generally pest and disease free. At least one male plant must be planted in the vicinity of female plants for them to bear fruit. Since the sex of the plant is not able to be determined as a small seedling, we encourage you to purchase multiples (3 or more) of Winterberry to increase your chances of receiving a mix of male and female plants for proper pollination. 


 Common uses for the Winterberry include:

  • Naturalizing upland areas or former fields
  • Planting along the edges of woodlands and in wetland areas
  • Attracts many types of birds and provides shelter for birds and small animals


The fruit from the Winterberry is eaten by at least 48 different species of birds, and is particularly important to the American Robin. Moose, deer, snowshoe hare and cottontail rabbits will browse the leaves and stems of the Winterberry on occasion.