Ilex glabra 'Shamrock'

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 5 Professionals
Common Name: inkberry
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Greenish-white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Attracts: Birds
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Erosion, Wet Soil, Air Pollution


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.