Winterberry, a member of the holly family, is a deciduous shrub which grows 6-10 feet tall in sun to part shade, preferring moist soil. The winterberry fruits are a spectacular scarlet red or bright orange. Because the female plants bear fruit, one male shrub is needed for every five females. It is best planted in large groupings and serves as an excellent mass effect without rival in the winter landscape.

Winterberry was widely used in North America for its astringent properties. The decoction of the bark (boiling it in water) was given internally for intestinal disorders or applied externally for gangrene and skin diseases.

Today the berries are eaten by wildlife, such as birds and small mammals. White-tailed deer are also known to browse on the leaves and twigs. This is a good candidate for deer repellent during the winter months; however, with relatively no serious disease or insect problems, Winterberry is a nice addition to almost any landscape.

Phot © Derek Ramsey via WikiMedia