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Mountain Winterberry Ilex montana


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Mountain Winterberry
credit: Richtid/CCSA

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Alternate name: Mountain Holly

Family: Aquifoliaceae, Holly view all from this family

Description This holly species is native to the United States, ranging along the Appalachian Mountains from southeast Massachusetts to northeast Alabama and northern Georgia. Also called mountain holly, although this name is is more typically used for Ilex mucronata. Synonyms include Ilex monticola.

It is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 9–12 m tall. The leaves are 3-9 cm long and 2-5 cm broad, light green, ovate or oblong, wedge-shaped or rounded at the base and acute at apex, with a serrated margin and an acuminate apex; they do not suggest the popular idea of a holly, with no spines or bristles. The leaves turn yellow before dropping in late autumn. The flowers are 4–5 mm diameter, with a four-lobed white corolla, appearing in late spring when the leaves are more than half grown. The fruit is a spherical bright red drupe 8-10 mm diameter, containing four seeds.

It is treated by some botanists as a variety of the related Ilex ambigua (Sand Holly), as I. ambigua var. monticola; the two are sometimes mistaken for each other in the U.S. southeastern coastal plain.

Warning All Ilex species may be somewhat toxic if ingested. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.

Habitat Mountains.

Range New England, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic.