Inkberries (Ilex glabra)
Inkberries (Ilex glabra) are Hollies native to the Southern states and the Atlantic seaboard, where they grow in swamps and other low places. Also called Gallberry or Appalachian Tea, these sturdy evergreen shrubs grow vigorously in dense clumps spread by underground runners. They are the best cold hardy of the shrubby evergreen Hollies
The stiff, upright branches of inkberries typically grow 6 to 8 feet tall with a rounded habit. A single clump may spread from 8 to 10 feet wide. Inkberries are remarkably tolerant of shade, and their preference for swampy areas is well known. While they are at home in swampy damp areas, they also adjust easily to windy, dry sites. For this reason they are particularly useful at the seashore.
Inkberry leaves are narrowly oval, shiny, dark green above, lighter beneath, 1 to 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Their edges are gently toothed toward the tip of the leaves. Leaves of male inkberries stay green all winter, while those of the female shrubs tend to become brown as winter sets in. Inkberry can stand heavy pruning.
Inkberry flowers are creamy white, small, with 4 tiny petals. Male flowers grow in small clusters where leaves join the stems, female flowers are solitary. Flowers of both sexes appear in late spring or early summer. Berries about 1/4 inch in diameter, which may be either black or white, appear in mid-autumn and last until early spring. Numerous songbird and game species eat Holly berries, but they are poisonous to humans.
Cultivars will vary mostly in size and compactness, though there are some with white berries, and a few with purple foliage in the winter. Compacta: is a dwarf female clone which is lower and more dense than normal; it bears heavy fruit. Grows 4 to 5 feet high and spreads as wide. Nordic: grows smaller than Compacta; Leucocarpa: has white berries; Nigra has purplish foliage in the winter. .