BLACK ALDER WINTERBERRY FEVERBUSH
(Ilex verticillata) Holly family
Flowers - Small, greenish white, the staminate clusters 2 to 10
flowered the fertile ones 1 to 3 flowered. Stem: A shrub 6 to 25
ft. high. Leaves: Oval, tapering to a point, about 1 in. wide,
green, smooth above, hairy, especially along
veins underneath. Fruit: Bright red berries, about the size of a
pea, apparently whorled around the twigs.
Preferred Habitat - Swamps, ditches, fencerows, and low thickets.
Flowering Season - June-July.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Florida, west to Missouri.
Beautiful bright red berries, dotted or clustered along the naked
twigs of the black alder, add an indispensable cheeriness to the
somber winter landscape. Bunches of them, commonly sold in the
city streets for household decoration, bring twenty-five cents
each; hence the shrubs within a large radius of each market get
ample pruning every autumn. The leaves turn black before dropping
The SMOOTH WINTERBERRY (I. laevigata), a similar species, but of
more restricted range, ripens its larger, orange-red berries
earlier than the preceding, and before its leaves, which turn
yellow, not black, in autumn, have fallen. Another distinguishing
feature is that its small, greenish-white staminate flowers grow
on long, very slender pedicels; whereas the solitary fertile
flowers are much nearer the stern.
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