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Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’

Ilex verticillata ‘Nana’

Winterberry ‘Red Sprite’, Winterberry, American Winterberry

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderAquifolialesHollies and some fairly obscure genera
FamilyAquifoliaceaeHolly family
GenusIlexLatin for “holly oak” (rather than holly!)
SpeciesverticillataFrom Latin verticillus, “whorled”
Cultivar‘Red Sprite’

About plant names...

Winterberry, a type of holly, is common in Eastern North America. This cultivated variety is not found in the wild. It is also known as Ilex verticillata 'Nana'.

Identification: This winterberry cultivar is a hardy, deciduous, multiple-stemmed shrub 30-36" (76-91 cm) tall and 30-36" (76-91 cm) around. It is smaller than the native variety, and considered a dwarf. It has gray branches with large white patches. Leaves are 1½-3" (3.8-7.6 cm) × ¾-1¼" (1.9-3.2 cm), elliptical in shape, with slight serrations. Small white ⅛" (5 mm) flowers have five to eight petals. Round bright red fruits, ¼" (6.3 mm) in diameter, persist through much of the winter. The fruits form in clusters or whorls around the stems, and they are very abundant on ‘Red Sprite.’ Winterberries prefer wetlands.

Winterberries are dioecious—that is, they have separate male and female plants. In gardens, both sexes must be present for pollination to produce fruiting. This ‘Red Sprite’ variety is a female, and requires pollination by a male variety such as Ilex verticillata 'Jim Dandy'.

Online References:

Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ at the University of Connecticut Plant Database

Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ on BackyardGardener.com

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry ‘Red Sprite’, Winterberry, American Winterberry)

10/1/2011 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm)

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry ‘Red Sprite’, Winterberry, American Winterberry)

9/24/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm)

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry ‘Red Sprite’, Winterberry, American Winterberry)

9/14/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 12 × 8" (31 × 20 cm)

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry ‘Red Sprite’, Winterberry, American Winterberry)

9/24/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 15 × 10" (39 × 26 cm)

Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Ilex verticillata (Winterberry ‘Red Sprite’, Winterberry, American Winterberry)

6/21/2013 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 7 × 4½" (16 × 11 cm)

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry ‘Red Sprite’, Winterberry, American Winterberry)

9/13/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm)

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry ‘Red Sprite’, Winterberry, American Winterberry)

8/22/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm)

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry ‘Red Sprite’, Winterberry, American Winterberry)

9/13/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (22 × 14 cm)

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry ‘Red Sprite’, Winterberry, American Winterberry)

6/21/2013 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 6 × 3½" (14 × 9.6 cm)

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry ‘Red Sprite’, Winterberry, American Winterberry)

8/22/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry ‘Red Sprite’, Winterberry, American Winterberry)

9/13/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 15 × 10" (39 × 26 cm)

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry ‘Red Sprite’, Winterberry, American Winterberry)

11/6/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (22 × 14 cm)

Range: Zones 3-9:

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