Ilex verticillata, Prinos verticillatus, Common Winterberry, Black Alder

Ilex verticillata, a widespread native shrub in eastern North America, Common Winterberry leaves were used by native groups as a tea substitute, and the bark as a laxative. Millspaugh in his 1887 work American Medicinal Plants, encapsulates uses for the plant then called Prinos verticillatus or black alder, "the bark both internally and externally [used] as a tonic, astringent, and antiseptic, and is probably as well known to domestic practice as any indigenous shrub. In intermittent fever [malaria] it has often proved as generally applicable as Peruvian Bark, and associated with diarrhea, and in later stages, where ulceration and hemorrhage are present, it is a very valuable . . . In general debilitated conditions of the system after long fevers, and where the body is depleted by exhausting discharges, it is also very useful, as well as in gangrenous affections and jaundice. Certain forms of chronic herpetic eruptions [herpes] and ulcers are also benefited by its use as an external application. The berries are purgative and vermifuge, forming one of the pleasantest adjuvants in children's remedies, for the expulsion of [worms]. Shoepf (1787) first noted the plant as having the above field of utility, and also mentioned its usefulness in [edema]. The bark is officinal in the [United States Pharmacopeia]." The fruit are considered somewhat toxic and the plants was used as a fish poison. Habitat images taken at the 3000+ acre Scarborough Marsh in Maine, a saltwater marsh known to the native Abenaki as Owascoag.

Email:, or call +1-479-253-2629 for licensing terms and fees. All images ┬ęcopyright Steven Foster. All rights reserved. Thank you!