Inkberry Holly




Inkberry “Shamrock” Holly 

(Ilex glabra “Shamrock”)

Interesting Information About Plant: 

The Ilex glabra, more commonly known as the Inkberry Holly for it dark purple berries, is a very popular landscaping shrub due to its tolerance of changing climate and its evergreen leaves.  It is very useful here at Bellarmine due to its high tolerance of wet conditions.  There are two types of Ilex glabra, “densa” and “shamrock”.  The kind here at Bellarmine is the Shamrock.  It is useful in that it generally stays under 5 which is useful in landscaping.  The leaves are narrowly oval, shiny, dark green above, lighter beneath, 1 to 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.  The male and female flowers occur on separate plants and bloom in late spring or early summer.  The flowers on the male plant form a small cluster while the female plants have single flowers.  The flower is small a creamy white color with four petals. 

Common Name: Inkberry Holly, Shamrock Holly

Scientific Name:  Ilex glabra

Family Name (Scientific and Common): Aquifoliaceae,   Holly Family

Continent of Origin: Southern United States and the Atlantic Seaboard

Most Distinguishing Morphological Features of This Plant: Dark Purple berries

Plant Growth Habit: Shrub  

Height at Maturity: Between 3 – 10 Feet  

Life Span: Perennial

Seasonal Habit: Evergreen Perennial  

Growth Habitat: Partial Sun  

Manner of Culture: Landscape Shrub-Vine-Tree 

Thorns on Younger Stem?  No

Cross Section of Younger Stem: Roundish   

Stem (or Trunk) Diameter: Less Than The Diameter of a Pencil  

Produces Brownish Bark? Yes  

Bark Peeling in Many Areas? No

Characteristics of Mature (Brownish) Bark: Lines Go Up-Down  

Type of Leaf: Flat, Thin Leaf 

Length of Leaf (or Leaflet): Less than Length of a Credit Card 

Leaf Complexity: Simple 

Shape of Leaf: Simple 

Edge of Leaf: Serrated

Leaf Arrangement: Alternate 

Leaf has Petiole? No

Patterns of Main-Veins: Pinnate 

Leaf Hairiness: No Hairs

Color of Foliage in Summer: Green 

Change in Color of Foliage in October: No Change    

Flowering Season: Summer 

Flowers: Single 

Type of Flower: Colorful Flower

Color of Flower: White 

Shape of Individual Flower: Bilaterally Symmetrical 

Size of Individual Flower: Smaller than a Quarter  

Sexuality: Male and Female Flowers on Separate Plants

Size of Fruit: Smaller than a Quarter 

Fruit Fleshiness at Maturity: Fleshy 

Shape of Fruit:  Spherical   

Color of Fruit at Maturity: Dark Purplish  

Fruit Desirable to Birds or Squirrels? Yes   

Unique Morphological Features of Plant: Fruit stays on throughout winter

Is the Plant Poisonous: Part of Plant (fruit)

Pesty Plant (weedy, hard to control)?  No

Common Name(s):  Inkberry Holly, Shamrock Holly, Gallberry, Appalachian Tea

Louisville Plants That Are Most Easily Confused With This One: none

Page prepared by:

Natalie Popham

December 6th, 2006

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