According to Winterberry researcher Professor Andrew Hodges (University of York); in a short unprinted interview with Broadside Magazine in 1972 the wooden masked lead singer of the new folk ensemble "Winterberry" did give some insight into the origin of their name. Hodges suggests that this was probably Colin Winterberry as Derek was known to be profoundly reclusive. Their surname was clearly a pseudonym and the real names of the band are unknown. "Colin" did admit that the name had a particular origin.
He told the magazine that whilst on a family holiday to Crow Head in Newfoundland, in the mid 50's, he had developed a taste for this inedible berry. He watched a Willow Ptarmigan voraciously eating the delicious looking berry and so decided to try some for himself. The subsequent illness he contracted resulted in him penning the song "The gorge rises in the cold breeze" which he recorded on the 1973 album "Culinary Delights and Ancient Cures". This album, like so much of the Winterberry back catalogue, is now lost. It is thanks to researchers and enthusiasts such as Chris Sharp and Andrew Hodges that we now have some insight into this fascinating band and their output.
Ilex verticillata, the winterberry, is a species of holly native to eastern North America in the United States and southeast Canada, from Newfoundland west to Ontario and Minnesota, and south to Alabama.
Other names that have been used include Black Alder Winterberry, Brook Alder, Canada holly, Coralberry, Deciduous Holly, Deciduous Winterberry, False alder, Fever bush, Inkberry, Michigan Holly, Possumhaw, Swamp Holly, Virginian Winterberry, or Winterberry Holly.
The species occurs particularly in wetland habitats, but also on dry sand dunes and grassland. The berries are an important food resource for numerous species of birds.