Inkberry Holly-Shamrock

Inkberry Holly


Latin Name: 
Ilex glabra
Bloom Color: 
Product Season: 
Spring Bloomer



Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Adaptable to both light and heavy soils. Prefers rich, consistently moist, acidic soils in full sun. Good shade tolerance, however. Inkberries are dioecious (separate male and female plants). Female plants need a male pollinator in order to produce the berry-like drupes that are characteristic of the species and cultivars. Prune to shape in early spring just before new growth begins. Needs minimal pruning unless used as a hedge (perhaps best grown as an informal hedge). Remove root suckers regularly if colonial spread is not desired.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ilex glabra (inkberry) is a slow-growing, upright-rounded evergreen shrub in the holly family. It is native to the southeastern U. S. It typically grows 6-8' tall but can spread by root suckers to form colonies. 'Shamrock' is a compact rounded cultivar that grows 3-4' tall and suckers less than the species. Obovate to oblanceolate, spineless, glossy dark green leaves (to 1.5" long) usually remain attractive in winter unless temperatures dip well below zero. Greenish white flowers appear in spring, but are relatively inconspicuous. If pollinated, female flowers give way to pea-sized, jet black, berry-like drupes (inkberries as it were) which mature in early fall and persist throughout winter to early spring unless consumed by local bird populations.


No serious insect or disease problems. Leaf spot is an occasional problem. Susceptible to chlorosis (yellowing of leaves) in high pH (alkaline) soils.

Garden Uses

Mass or group. Excellent for shrub borders, foundation plantings or as a low hedge. Also effective naturalized in moist woodland gardens or in moist locations near streams or ponds.

Native plant that resides in wooded swamps, low woods and thickets. Bronze green foliage and blooms in late spring. The dark greeen glossy foliage of this species turns purplish in winter. Wet site tolerant and evergreen.