YAUPON HOLLY (llex vomitoria)
Ilex vomitoria, commonly known as yaupon 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
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
- vomitoria occurs in the United States from Maryland south to Florida and west to Oklahoma (only in the extreme southeast) 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 flatwood
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 it was Ilex vomitoria that caused it (hence the Latin name). The active ingredients, like those of the related yerba mate and guayusa, 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 made from Ilex vomitoria when it was likely an entirely different drink made from various roots and herbs and did have emetic properties.
During a severe drought in 2011, JennaDee Detro noticed that many trees on the family cattle ranch in Cat Spring, Texas, withered, but the yaupon evergreen holly appeared vigorous. Detro began researching yaupon and discovered that the plant contains caffeine. After Detro learned how to process the leaves,Detro and her sister, Abianne Falla, began selling the tea. Beginning in 2012, American companies once again began offering commercial supplies of yaupon tea.
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 in height.
‘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.
(Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)