Monday, December 7, 2009

Ilex verticillata

Since we are well into December and Soho streets are getting thronged with tourists, it seems appropriate to do a post on Ilex verticillata or winterberry holly. Here's one in full fruit on the High Line.

Ilex verticillata
(sometimes called fever bush, as is Lindera benzoin -- both species have been used as antiseptics and astringents) is an incredibly tough plant with a vast range - it can grow as far north as Nova Scotia and as far south as Florida. It thrives in wet soils and like most hollies, it prefers a slightly slightly acid pH.

Of course, the bare stems are beautiful and make frequent appearances in holiday floral decorations. I remember seeing fields of these hollies being grown in rural Virginia during college and stunned at the plants' beauty.

Like most hollies (but not all) this plant is dioecious, which means you'll need one male plant in order for the females to fruit.

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