The bright berries of Ilex are striking at Christmas time, as well as for fall arrangements. Ilex verticillata is a deciduous shrub and member of the holy family, but whose leaves whither and fade in the fall, unlike its prickly evergreen cousins. Winterberry, as this Ilex is often called, is a native of North America. Ilex is harvested for the ornamental berries, and as a deciduous plant is sold without leaves.
Care and Handling:
Berries should be attached firmly and will last very well once hydrated properly and stabilized. Examine the clusters of berries carefully; especially looking for wilted over-ripe, mushy or brown fruits. There is inevitably some drop of berries in transportation, but check that it is not excessive. Stems should be cut cleanly and crisply (please do not smash the stems) and place immediately into water. The fruits should be hydrated in a low sugar holding solution and preferably should be processed in the cooler, and held at very low temperatures, as they are autumn fruiting crops.