Yaupon Holly



Botanical Name:   Ilex vomitoria

Common Name:  Yaupon Holly

Description:  Yaupon holly is an evergreen shrub or tree found in Florida’s coastal and inland scrub, dunes, floodplains, and hammocks. Its diminutive flowers bloom in spring, attracting a variety of bees and other insects. In the fall, abundant fruit production provides food for birds and small mammals. The dense foliage provides year-round cover for wildlife. It is the host plant for the Henry’s Elfin Butterfly and the genus Ilex supports the specialized bee Colletes banksi. Grows in moist to dry, well drained soils in sun, part sun, or part shade. Grows 8 – 20′ tall x 8-10′ wide. Yaupon holly works well as a specimen plant or in a buffer or screen. It tolerates salt and wind and is adaptable to many soil types. Its form is irregular, but it can be pruned to a desired shape or height. It is prone to suckering, so periodic removal of unwanted sprouts may be necessary. Drought tolerant once established. Hurricane wind and deer resistant.

Yaupon holly’s flowers are small, white and born in clusters within leaf axils. Simple leaves are oval to elliptic, dark green and typically less than 1 inch long. They are leathery with crenate margins and alternate arrangement. Fruits are small (about ¼-inch in diameter) green berries that turn bright red when mature. The plant is dioecious, which means both a male and female specimen are needed to ensure pollination and fruit. Berries are produced only on female plants. Branches are slender. Bark is smooth and whitish-gray. The crown is densely branched.

Tolerant of inundation with brackish water. Moderately tolerant of salty wind and may get some salt spray.

This plant in 3-gallon containers is 2-3′ tall. These are female plants.

Plant Lore:  Yaupon holly tea has been consumed for many centuries. Native Americans brewed a strong “black drink” (as it was known by early settlers) from its leaves. Confederate soldiers used the tea as a substitute for coffee. In recent years, Yaupon holly tea has seen a revival and is now available commercially. The plant is the only native North America species to contain caffeine. The leaves and stems may be used fresh, dried, or roasted.

Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 10



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