Black Alder Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

Botanical Name: Ilex verticillata
Family:    Aquifoliaceae
Genus:    Ilex
Species:    I. verticillata
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Aquifoliales

Synonyms:Prinos verticillatus

Common Names:  Black Alder Winterberry, Brook Alder, Canada holly ,Coralberry, Deciduous Holly, Deciduous Winterberry, False alder, Fever bush, Inkberry, Michigan Holly, Possumhaw, Swamp Holly, Virginian Winterberry, or Winterberry Holly.

Habitat : Black Alder is  native to eastern North America in the United States and southeast Canada, from Newfoundland west to Ontario and Minnesota, and south to Alabama.

Description:
Black Alder  or Ilex verticillata is a  multi-stemmed shrubshrub growing to 1–5 metres (3.3–16.4 ft) tall. It is one of a number of hollies which are deciduous, losing their leaves in the fall. In wet sites, it will spread to form a dense thicket, while in dry soil it remains a tight shrub. The leaves are glossy green, 3.5–9 cm long, 1.5–3.5 cm broad, with a serrated margin and an acute apex. The flowers are small, 5 mm diameter, with five to eight white petals.

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The fruit is a globose red drupe 6–8 mm diameter, which often persists on the branches long into the winter, giving the plant its English name. Like most hollies, it is dioecious, with separate male and female plants; the proximity of at least one male plant is required to pollenize the females in order to bear fruit. The Bark is dark gray to brown  generally smooth with some lenticels

Cultivation:
It is a tough plant which is easy to grow, with very few diseases or pests. Although wet acidic soils are optimal, the winterberry will grow well in the average garden. Numerous cultivars are available, differing in size and shape of the plant and color of the berry. At least one male plant must be planted in proximity to one or more females for them to bear fruit.

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Propagation:
*Early summer cuttings are easily rooted
*Seeds possess a dormancy making germination tricky

Constituents: The bark contains about 4-8 per cent tannin, two resins, the one soluble and the other insoluble in alcohol, albumen, gum, sugar, and a bitter principle and a yellow colouring matter not yet isolated. There is no berberine.

Medicinal Uses:
Native American herbal tradition regarded the bark as a botanical aid for relieving occasional constipation. In fact, later herbalists describe its action similar to Cascara Sagrada.The berries were used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes, the origin of the name “fever bush”.

This remedy is a stimulant to the digestive and blood-making organs, and may be advantageously employed for the general purposes of a tonic. But beyond this, it influences the vegetative processes, probably through the sympathetic system of nerves, strengthening the circulation, aiding nutrition, and the removal of waste. We have used it but little, yet the testimony in its favor is such, that we strongly recommend its trial.

Other Uses:
Ornamental plant:
Ilex verticillata – the American Winterberry – is prized as an ornamental plant in gardens for the midwinter splash of bright color from densely packed berries, whose visibility is heightened by the loss of foliage; therefore it is popular even where other, evergreen, hollies are also grown. The bare branches covered in berries are also popular for cutting and use in floral arrangements.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilex_verticillata
http://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/spec-med/prinos.html
http://www.pennherb.com/black-alder-bark-powder-16oz-6p16
http://www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/detail.php?pid=221
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/alder018.html

 

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