Shrub 0.3 - 3 m tall Leaves: bright green above, paler beneath, 2 - 5 cm long, narrow elliptic to narrow egg-shaped with a rounded or pointed tip, non-toothed or with few teeth. Flowers: either male or female, borne on separate plants (dioecious), yellow, tiny, narrow-petaled. Fruit: fleshy with hard nutlets in the center (drupe), red, rarely yellow, 6 mm in diameter, nearly spherical. Twigs: purplish, becoming ash gray.
Similar species: Ilex opaca, Ilex verticillata, and Nemopanthus mucronatus have very similar fruit. However, other characteristics make them easy to distinguish from each other. Ilex opaca is a tree that has evergreen, oval to narrow elliptic, leathery leaves with a few spiny teeth along the margins. Ilex verticillata is a shrub that has deciduous, elliptic to egg-shaped leaves with sharply toothed margins and a hairy lower leaf surface.
Flowering: late April to late May
Habitat and ecology: Bogs, swamp forests, damp thickets and woods.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Nemopanthus is derived from the Greek words nema, meaning thread, pous, meaning foot, and anthos, meaning flower, referring to the thin flower stalks. Mucronatus comes from the Latin word meaning "short, pointed tip,"referring to the leaf shape.
Author: The Morton Arboretum
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
In swampy and boggy places about lakes and in wet woods in the lake area. Infrequent.
Branching shrub to 3 m; petioles 5-12 mm, often reddish; lvs elliptic, 2-5(-6) cm, obtuse or rounded to acute and mucronate at the tip, entire or very minutely and remotely toothed, rounded at base, evidently and closely reticulate-veiny; pedicels 1-2 cm, or even 3 cm in fr; cal virtually obsolete; anthers 0.3-0.8 mm; pet yellowish, 2 mm; fr
red (yellowish), 6 mm thick; nutlets 4-5 mm, dorsally smooth or ribbed, laterally smooth; 2n=40. Moist or wet places; Nf. and Que. to Minn., s. to W.Va. and Ind. Mar.-June.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.