Ilex Vomitoria - Linnaeus
Aquifoliaceae (Holly) Family
Yaupon holly is an evergreen shrub or small tree that grows 20-25 ft in height. It typically produces multiple stems to form dense shrubby clumps. The bark is smooth and gray and is often mottled with yellow-green patches of lichen. The plant grows on almost any soil type and in sun or shade, although it is found naturally in low, moist, acid woods. It is drought tolerant but can also survive temporary poor drainage. In the wild it is a thicket-forming large shrub or small tree. In landscapes it can be single- or multi-trunked and has attractive pale white to gray bark. Fruits of the plant are eaten by many birds, especially after freeze-thaw cycles.
The leaves are simple, leathery and dark green that are held alternately on the branches. The leaves are oval shape, usually about 0.25-1 in and crenate (like sawteeth) along the edges.
Yaupon is dioecious, which means that male and female flowers are born on separate plants. The tiny white flowers appear in spring in great numbers and are borne in the leaf axils, close against the stem. Female flowers are following by small bright red, yellow or orange berries that persist on the tree/shrub through fall and winter.
The fruits appear in late summer and autumn and are very ornamental; often referred to as Christmas Berry.
Medicinal: A recent study at Texas A&M University verifies the anti-inflammatory benefits of the yaupon holly plant in reference to inhibiting colon cancer. A 2009 University of Florida study previously validated the plant's antioxidant benefits, revealing that, depending on the specific genotype of the plant studied, yaupon holly can offer anywhere from fifty to a hundred percent of the antioxidant benefits of green tea. However, yaupon holly tea has a less bitter taste than green tea because it contains far less tannins. Yaupon leaves contain between .65% and .85% caffeine by weight, compared to coffee beans 1.1% caffeine and tea leaves 3.5% caffeine.