Nemopanthus mucronatus (L.) Trel. - Mountain Holly,Catberry

Native , Occasional

By Steven D. Glenn

Not peer reviewed

Last Modified 04/03/2013

Back to Nemopanthus

Nemopanthus mucronatus

Common Names

Mountain Holly,Catberry

Food uses

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for reference and historical use. We do not recommend nor do we condone the use of this species for food purposes without first consulting a physician.

(Moerman, 1998)

Berries were used as food by Native Americans.

Medicinal uses

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for reference and historical use. We do not recommend nor do we condone the use of this species for medicinal purposes without first consulting a physician.

(Moerman, 1998)

Used by Native Americans for the treatment of coughs, fever, tuberculosis, and as a kidney aid and tonic.

Poisonous properties

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for reference and historical use. If you believe you have been poisoned, please contact the Poison Control Office near you (look for the number in the front of the phone book).


Nemopanthus mucronatus (L.) Trel., Trans. Acad. Sci. St. Louis, 5: 349. 1892. (as Nemopanthes mucronata)

Vaccinium mucronatum L., Sp. Pl. 1: 350. 1753.

Ilex canadensis Michx., Fl. Bor. Am. 2: 229, tab. 49. 1803. non Weston 1770. Ilex delicatula Barton, Fl. Virgin. 67. 1812.

Ilex prunifolia Muhlb., Cat. Pl. Am. Sept. 18. 1813.

Prinos ambiguus sensu Nutt., Gem. N. Am. Pl. 1: 213. 1818. non Michx. 1803.

Nemopanthus fascicularis Raf., Am. Monthly Mag. 4: 357. 1819.

Nemopanthes fascicularis Raf., J. Phys. Chim. Hist. Nat. Arts 89: 97. 1819.

Nemopanthes canadensis (Michx.) DC., Mem. Soc. Phys. Geneve, 1: 450. 1823.

Nuttalia canadensis "DC. rapp. jard. Gen. 1821. p. 44" ex DC, Pl. Rar. Jard. Geneve, 8 (1829).

Prinos integrifolia Elliott, Sketch Bot. S. Carol. 2: 706. 1824.

Prinos canadensis Loddiges, Cat. 1823 ex Roemer & Schultes, Syst. Veg. 7,1: 62. 1829.

Deweya canadensis Eaton, Man. Bot. N. Stat. ed. 6, 234. 1833.

Prinus lucidus [hort.] ex Loudon, Arb. Brit. 2: 503. 1838, non Ait. 1789.

Prinos longipes Raf., Sylv. Tellur. 50. 1838.

Nemopanthes lucida K. Koch, Dendr. 2,1: 229. 1872, non Prinos lucidus Ait. 1789.

Iliciodes canadense Kuntze, Rev. Gen. Pl. 1: 113. 1891.

Ilicioides mucronata (L.) Britton, Mem. Torrey Bot. Club 5: 217. 1894.

Ilex mucronata (L.) M. Powell, V. Savolainen & S. Andrews, Kew Bull. 55: 345. 2000.

TYPE: North America, P. Kalm s.n. (Lectotype: LINN 497.5, selected by M.Powell, Savol. & S.Andrews, Kew Bull. 55(2): 345. 2000).


Nemopanthus mucronata f. chrysocarpa (Farwell) Fernald, Rhodora 47: 144. 1945.

Nemopanthus mucronata var. chrysocarpa Farwell, Rhodora 42: 307. 1940.

TYPE: Michigan, Houghton County, vicinity Rice Lake, August 30, 1939: O.A. Farwell 12140 (Holotype: ?)


The masculine ending of the name Nemopanthus was conserved in 1935. Briquet, 1935

Recent work has proposed the incorporation of Nemopanthus into Ilex based on molecular studies (Powell, 2000) and anatomical affinities (Baas, 1973; Baas, 1984). The more traditional concept of keeping Nemopanthus segregated from Ilex has been followed.


HABIT Perennial, deciduous, phanerophytic, shrubs, diclinous and dioecious (some individuals monoecious), 1-3 m tall.

STEMS Main stems ascending or erect, round. Bark smooth, not exfoliating, gray. Branches ascending. Twigs brown or gray (sometimes with a purplish cast), not odoriferous, terete, 2-4 mm in diam., smooth or lenticellate, glabrous, eglandular, occasional side shoots with congested leaf scars. Pith small, light brown, round, continuous, nodal diaphram absent. Sap translucent. For a review of xylem anatomy see Baas, 1984.

BUDS Terminal and axillary present, monomorphic, scattered along stem; terminal bud ovoid, pointed; axillary buds 1 per axil, ovoid, pointed. Bud scales 2-3, light brown, glabrous, eglandular, minutely ciliate on margins. Bud scale scars not encircling the stem. Leaf scars triangular to crescent-shaped, slightly raised. Vascular bundle scars 1.

LEAVES Spiral, simple, 1 per node (often appearing whorled at apex of short shoots), crowded toward stem apex or spaced somewhat evenly along and divergent from stem. Leaves petiolate, petiole furrowed, 0.5-2 cm long, glabrous, eglandular, often reddish. Leaf blades: abaxial surface light green, adaxial surface green, elliptic, bilaterally symmetric, 1.5-6 cm long, 1-2.5 cm wide, membranaceous, base acute or obtuse, margin entire or minutely serrulate, apex acute, mucronulate. Abaxial surface glabrous, eglandular, reticulate veiny. Adaxial surface glabrous, eglandular. For a review of leaf micro-anatomy see Baas, 1984.

INFLORESCENCES Unisexual, simple, female usually single; male usually fascicle, axillary. Peduncle present, often lengthening in fruit, glabrous. Rachis absent, bractless.

FEMALE FLOWERS Coetaneous, formed on last season's growth, with sepals and petals readily distinguishable from one another, 4-merous or 5-merous, 4-5 mm wide, 1 flower per inflorescence, fragrance absent, perianth of two whorls. Calyx virtually obsolete, actinomorphic, deciduous or semi-persistent in fruit. Sepal lobes 4-5. Corolla present, actinomorphic, of free petals, deciduous. Petals 4-5, light yellow, linear, 2 mm long, margin entire, abaxial surface glabrous, eglandular, adaxial surface glabrous, eglandular. Gynoecium syncarpous. Stigmas 1, short. Ovary superior, glabrous, eglandular. Placentation axile.

MALE FLOWERS Male inflorescence simple, fascicles of 1-3. Peduncle 0.5-2 cm long. Flowers 2-3 mm wide, perianth of two whorls. Calyx virtually obsolete, actinomorphic. Corolla actinomorphic, of free petals. Petals 4-5, light yellow, linear, 1.5-2 mm long, margin entire, glabrous, eglandular. Stamens 4 or 5. Anthers light yellow, glabrous, eglandular. Filaments free, straight, white, glabrous, eglandular. Gynoecium vestigial.

FRUITS Drupe, red (f. chrysocarpa - yellow), globose, 6-8 mm long, 6-8 mm wide, glabrous, eglandular.

SEEDS (3)4 or 5, brown, crescent-shaped, 5 mm long, 2.5-3 mm wide, glabrous, eglandular, sometimes ribbed on dorsal surface.


Swamps, bogs, wet woods, swales, interdunal hollows, and pond and lake shores.


Native to northeastern North America.

United States -- CT, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VA, VT, WV

Canada -- NB, NF, NS, PE, ON, QC

New York Metropolitan Region -- Native throughout the metropolitan area.

Rarity Status

Heritage Global Rank -- G?

Connecticut -- Not Listed

New Jersey -- Not Listed

New York -- Not Listed

Species Biology


April [week 4] - May [week 4]



Small, 1976

Mycophily -- Dilophus, Melanostoma, Pyrophaena, Spilogona, Syrphus

Melittophily -- Andrena, Apis, Dialictus, Pyrobombus



June [week 2] - October [week 2]



Probably Endozoochory via avian frugivores



Schopmeyer, 1974; Dirr, 1987; Schultz, 2001

It is difficult to germinate due to an impermeable seed coat and a dormant embryo. Moist stratification for 2-5 months at room temperature followed by 2-3 months of moist stratification of 33-42 degrees F has proven helpful.