Ilex vomitoria, commonly known as yaupon /jɒpɒn/ or yaupon holly, is
a species of holly that is native to southeastern North America.
The word yaupon was derived from its Catawban name, yopún, which is a
diminutive form of the word yop, meaning "tree".
Another common name, cassina, was borrowed from the Timucua
language (despite this, it usually refers to Ilex cassine).
2 Habitat and range
4 Cultivation and uses
4.1 Human consumption
5 See also
Yaupon holly is an evergreen shrub or small tree reaching 5–9 meters
tall, with smooth, light gray bark and slender, hairy shoots. The
leaves are alternate, ovate to elliptical with a rounded apex and
crenate or coarsely serrated margin, 1–4.5 cm long and
1–2 cm broad, glossy dark green above, slightly paler below.
The flowers are 5–5.5 mm diameter, with a white four-lobed
corolla. The fruit is a small round, shiny, and red (occasionally
yellow) drupe 4–6 mm diameter containing four pits, which are
dispersed by birds eating the fruit. The species may be distinguished
from the similar
Ilex cassine by its smaller leaves with a rounded,
not acute apex.
Habitat and range
I. vomitoria occurs in the
United States from
Maryland south to
Florida and west to
Oklahoma  and Texas. A disjunct population
occurs in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It generally occurs in
coastal areas in well-drained sandy soils, and can be found on the
upper edges of brackish and salt marshes, sandy hammocks, coastal sand
dunes, inner-dune depressions, sandhills, maritime forests, nontidal
forested wetlands, well-drained forests and pine flatwoods.
An eastern bluebird eating the bright red berries from an Ilex
The fruit are an important food for many birds, including Florida
duck, American black duck, mourning dove, ruffed grouse, bobwhite
quail, wild turkey, northern flicker, sapsuckers, cedar waxwing,
eastern bluebird, American robin, gray catbird, northern mockingbird,
and white-throated sparrow. Mammals that eat the fruit include
nine-banded armadillo, American black bear, gray fox, raccoon and
skunks. The foliage and twigs are browsed by white-tailed deer.
Cultivation and uses
Native Americans used the leaves and stems to brew a tea, commonly
thought to be called asi or black drink for male-only purification and
unity rituals. The ceremony included vomiting, and Europeans
incorrectly believed that
Ilex vomitoria caused it (hence the Latin
name). The active ingredients, like those of the related yerba mate
and guayusa plants, are actually caffeine and theobromine, and
the vomiting either was learned or resulted from the great quantities
in which they drank the beverage coupled with fasting. Others
believe the Europeans improperly assumed the black drink to be the tea
Ilex vomitoria when it was likely an entirely different
drink made from various roots and herbs and did have emetic
Recently, the process of drying the leaves for consumption has been
"rediscovered" by some modern Americans and yaupon tea is now
Ilex vomitoria is a common landscape plant in the Southeastern United
States. The most common cultivars are slow-growing shrubs popular for
their dense, evergreen foliage and their adaptability to pruning into
hedges of various shapes. These include:
'Folsom Weeping' – weeping cultivar
'Grey's Littleleaf'/'Grey's Weeping' – weeping cultivar
'Nana'/'Compacta' – dwarf female clone usually remaining below 1 m
'Pride of Houston' – female clone similar to type but featuring
improvements in form, fruiting, and foliage.
'Schilling's Dwarf'/'Stokes Dwarf' – dwarf male clone that grows no
more than 0.6 m tall and 1.2 m wide.
'Will Flemming' – male clone featuring a columnar growth habit.
Ilex paraguariensis or yerba mate – a caffeinated holly native to
subtropical South America.
Ilex guayusa or guayusa – a caffeinated holly native to the
Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest.
Kuding – a Chinese tisane made from I. kudingcha
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ilex vomitoria.
Wikispecies has information related to Ilex vomitoria
^ a b "Ilex vomitoria". Germplasm Resources Information Network
Agricultural Research Service
Agricultural Research Service (ARS),
United States Department
of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2011-09-19.
^ Cutler, Charles L. (2000). O Brave New Words!: Native American
Loanwords in Current English. University of
pp. 10, 163, 215. ISBN 978-0-8061-3246-4.
^ a b c d "Yaupon Ilex vomitoria" (PDF). USDA
^ "Florida's Hollies".
Florida Department of Environmental
^ Martin, C.O.; Mott, S.P. (1997). "Section 7.5.10 Yaupon (Ilex
vomitoria)". U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wildlife Resources
Management Manual (PDF). Vicksburg, MS: U.S. Army Engineer Waterways
Experiment Station. Technical Report EL-97-16. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 2007-06-11.
^ a b "Ilex vomitoria".
Oklahoma Biological Survey.
^ Bioimages: Ilex vomitoria
^ Wilford, JN (8 August 2012). "Ancient Energy Boost, Brewed From
Toasted Leaves and Bark". New York Times.
^ Crown PL, Emerson TE, Gu J, Hurst WJ, Pauketat TR, Ward T (August
2012). "Ritual Black Drink consumption at Cahokia". Proc. Natl. Acad.
Sci. U.S.A. 109 (35): 13944–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.1208404109.
PMC 3435207 . PMID 22869743.
^ Hudson, C. M. (1976). The Southeastern Indians. University of
Tennessee Press ISBN 0-87049-248-9.
^ Gibbons, E. (1964). Stalking the Blue-eyed Scallop. David McKay.
^ Carpenter, Murray. "Here's The Buzz On America's Forgotten Native
'Tea' Plant". NPR.org. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
^ Flint, Harrison Leigh (1997). Landscape Plants for Eastern North
America (2 ed.). John Wiley and Sons. pp. 282–283.
Plant List: kew-2861645