Friday, April 19, 2024

NOTES FROM THE FALLEN TREE: Winterberries are Delightfully Showy This Season

Winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) berries.

Winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata)

Winterberry produces flowers in the summer months but the showy berries that follow look like rubies scattered throughout a dreary winter forest. It is a native plant commonly found in moist, acidic soils with access to sunlight. Each individual berry can hold up to three to five tiny seeds that are a favorite of songbirds during the winter when food is limited. 

Although it is slow growing, it would make a great addition in your yard that can be enjoyed year-round. Simply search for growing and caring for winterberry plants and you will be rewarded with an abundance of information on how to create the best habitat for these plants. 

I had the opportunity to closely observe a woodpecker eating away at the abundance of fruit the shrub provided. An added benefit of planting native means that native species will make ample use and add to the diversity around your home. 

Editor’s Note: The author reports further research showed that although the berries are edible for humans, they are very bitter and can even be poisonous if large quantities of seeds are consumed. It is best left for wildlife.

Jennifer Correa-Kruegel, Warren County Naturalist
Jennifer Correa-Kruegel, Warren County Naturalist

Jennifer has a Masters in Parks and Resource Management from Slippery Rock University. She worked as a Park Naturalist for Hunterdon County Park System from 2003-2006 and then at the NJSOC full-time from 2006 - 2020, starting as the Program Coordinator and evolving to an Environmental Educator. Jen is a New Jersey native and has lived in Warren County with her family since 2004. She is excited to be offering programs to this community she has grown to love.