Winterberry (Black Alder) - Ilex
Native Shrubs ... in wildlife
West Virginia Native Plant Society
West Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program
||Rounded top, many stemmed shrub to 12
||Twigs slender and smooth with small
whitish dots (lenticels). Pith is green, gray to brown
||Deciduous, alternate, simple, elliptic
to round in shape, small teeth on margin, dull green
above, turns blackish color in autumn.
||Inconspicuous, small whitish yellow,
||Showy bright red fruits from August to
October. Persists into winter.
- Mostly in mountain counties of Braxton, Fayette, Grant,
Greenbrier, Hampshire, Marion, Mason, Mercer, Mineral,
Monongalia, Morgan, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Preston,
Raleigh, Randolph, Summers, Taylor, Tucker, Upshur,
Webster and Wyoming.
- Natural Habitat:
- Swamps, low ground and streambanks.
- Wildlife Use:
- The fruits are preferred food for many wildlife species
such as raccoon, red squirrel, and the following birds:
ruffed grouse, bobwhite, wood duck, robin, waxwing,
thrushes, catbird, flicker and brown thrasher.
Winterberry is frequently used as nest sites by many
- Uses: Groups, screens or borders.
Light: Full sunlight.
Soil Moisture: Wet to moist.
Soil pH: Acid to slightly acid.
Problems: Leaves are often affected by
leaf spots, tar spot and mildew but does not seriously
affect the health of the plants. Normally is trouble
free. Does require male and female shrubs for fruit
Compiled by: Holly Dryer-Creasy, naturalist
and amateur botanist, Fairmont, West Virginia
Written by West Virginia Native Plant Society
members and jointly published with the WV Nongame Program
Illustration from Flora of West Virginia,
Strausbaugh and Core