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Mountain Winterberry Ilex montana

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Ilex ambigua var. montana
  • Ilex ambigua var. monticola
  • Ilex amelanchier var. monticola
  • Ilex monticola
Phonetic Spelling
EE-leks mon-TAY-nah
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Mountain Winterberry is a deciduous evergreen tree or shrub in the Holly family found mostly in the mountains of North Carolina, but also scattered in the Piedmont. It grows in mesic forests from New Jersey to Georgia, mostly at higher elevations. This holly has large and spinless leaves and larger fruit than most hollies. It is dioecious so a male and female plant is needed for fruit set For the plant to produce berries and the male and female plants must bloom at the same time. The red berries are a favorite of birds and small mammals. It is slow to reach maturity, but once established it tends to have a long lifespan. The leaves are dull green above, light green below with raised white veins on the lower surface.

Grow in average, moist, well-drained acidic soils in sun to partial shade. It can be grown as a shrub or a tree. Use for winter interest, naturalized areas and to attract pollinators and birds. It has some drought tolerance.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

No known diseases or insect pests.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#full sun tolerant#nectar plant#winter interest#specialized bees#deer resistant#pollinator plant#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FAC#bird friendly#food source soft mast fruit#FACU Piedmont Mountains#partial shade tolerant#bee friendly#Audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#full sun tolerant#nectar plant#winter interest#specialized bees#deer resistant#pollinator plant#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FAC#bird friendly#food source soft mast fruit#FACU Piedmont Mountains#partial shade tolerant#bee friendly#Audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ilex
    Species:
    montana
    Family:
    Aquifoliaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern United States
    Distribution:
    North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
    Wildlife Value:
    Members of the genus Ilex support the following specialized bee: Colletes banksi. Attracts pollinators and birds and small mammals.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Deer damage
    Edibility:
    Use caution. Human ingestion of berries can cause minor toxic reaction.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
    Appendage:
    Prickles
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    1/2 inch red berries on female plants; persists into winter. Displays from August to September. Slightly glaucous, may last through the following spring. You need both male and female plants to produce berries.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Insignificant
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small greenish-white flowers in clusters in leaf axils. Blooms from April to June.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    4 to 6 inch alternate, simple leaf with shallow pointed teeth, elliptical to ovate, glabrous and green above, paler below. The prominent veins give the leaves a wrinkled look.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Smooth but warty gray-brown bark. Often colonized by lichens.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Slender, gray-brown to red-brown, with scattered light lenticels, buds and leaf scars are small.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Lawn
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Understory Tree
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Pollution
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. Leaves and berries are low toxicity.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Saponins
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits