Ilex vomitoria


Notice the second part of this tree’s botanical name.  What does that word bring to mind?  Yes, the name comes with a big warning.  If you eat the berries, the result is not pretty.

We know this tree as Yaupon Holly and is another native of the Piney Forest. Yaupons usually have skinny trunks and grow just about anywhere, as between these two pines. Like the American Tree Holly in the previous post, it makes tiny flowers in the spring with the berries forming quickly.  It is a small tree and will spread by root.  Most consider it a weed tree.


But it has many hidden secrets, besides what happens when humans eat the berries.  Its flowers are a food source for bees.  Cardinals dine on the berries and  flocks of Cedar Waxwings devour them.  Now for humans, we can make tea from the leaves which contain caffeine and antioxidants (make sure you do research before eating it). With a name like vomitoria, I think I will skip the tea!

15 Comments on “Ilex vomitoria”

  1. Deb says:

    I’ll pass on the tea,too! It is very pretty in a wooded area.

  2., I think that is a different Holly, check out the link.

    • The photos look different from mine. The ones that grow wild here are very scraggy and I don’t think they could be trimmed up for landscape. The berries are somewhat translucent. One of my resources is a blog called Foraging Texas.

      • I wonder if there is a Texas variety of Yaupon, the Yaupons here look very much like the Dwarf Yaupon Holly shrubs, small oval leaves -check this out.

      • I did some more research and Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center says it is found in Florida. I have only seen it in the woods, but Ladybird says it can be pruned into hedges. I can’t picture that. Is that another one of your blogs? I couldn’t find the Yaupons on it. It did have really great info. I am not a trained in horticulture and am learning as I go. I used to plant and never label or remember what it was, but since blogging I do more research and am self-teaching. I volunteer at a garden and also learn there. I missed my calling. I went to an agricultural college and used to sneak into the greenhouses and still did not “buy a clue”!

      • Oh Well, I have been a practicing Landscape Architect for almost 35 years, mostly in Atlanta and further north, so zone 10A where we landed is new (sort of) I have never written about Yaupons. In the early 80s they became popular as a native, drought resistant small tree – at the time they were field collected in Louisiana mostly and the quality was uh, variable. Nowadays they are grown in nurseries and selected cultivars are grown for their berries. here is a link to see sheared
        I guess we should have a tea party. The blog I sent a link to is George Rogers who is a botany professor here.

      • I could see growing “selected” ones in a landscape. They are a great little tree in the natural setting. I moved from zone 4 in Appalachia and just watched people garden. It was many years before I had my own patch to plant in. It has been a wonderful learning experience. I’m not ready to drink the tea!

  3. Ann Coleman says:

    It’s a beautiful plant, but with that name, it’s easy to skip the tea!

  4. shoreacres says:

    I was in Brazoria county a week ago, and the yaupons are thick with berries. It can be just slightly confusing right now, because some of the possumhaw still are holding their leaves, but they’re in the process of dropping, and soon the different will be obvious. I’ve had such a time associating the proper common name with the scientific names, but now that they’re starting to look different, it will be easier. What’s so funny is that I remember the scientific names and not the common!

  5. Christina says:

    Certainly a scary name. The Scientific names do usually tell us useful things about a plant so it is worth the effort of using them.

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