Ilex Verticillata is a genus of 400 to 600 species of flowering plants in the family Aquifoliaceae.
Ilex originates from central and north east America.
Ilex is available from October until Januari. The yellow and orange varieties are used most often in fall, the red varieties can't be missed during Christmas time. When cut at the right time, the branches can last up to two months. Ilex can be dried as well, to keep a much longer period.
In the garden this characteristic shrub loves a sunny spot and a lot of own space so he can grow freely. It prefers a humus rich and moist soil. When not pruned it will turn in a wild shrub. If pruned you can let it grow into a small tree of nicely shaped shrub. Pruning can only be done in June. But wether you prune the Ilex or not: it won't grow any lagers than two meters.
The green shrub blossoms from May until June with tiny flowers that hide behind the leaves. The leaves can suffer from infestation with caterpillar. During summer the Ilex isn't that noticeable but at the end of autumn it will have lost all its leaves and its beautiful berries appear. These berries are quite hard and tough to begin with but once they've had some frost, they will be edible for birds, mice and other small garden inhabitants.
The Ilex berries are not suitable for consumption by humans, as they are lightly poisonous. There is however one variety of Ilex that is used to make 'maté': the Ilex Paparaguariensis. Maté is a tea that's popular in Argentine.