Yaupon, Yaupon Holly, Cassina
Aquifoliaceae (Holly Family)
Marcus, Joseph A.
from southern Virginia south to Florida and west to southeast Oklahoma and central Texas, Yaupon is a picturesque, upright, single- or multi-trunked shrub
or small tree,
growing 12-45 ft high but usually no higher than 25 ft. Female plants produce prodigious amounts of bright red, persistent berries. The leaves are dark green and small, usually less than 1 1/2 in. long. The pale gray bark
is marked with white patches.
Yaupon Holly is often grown in residential landscapes and trimmed into hedges, with many cultivars popular: weeping forms, columnar forms, and dwarf forms. The ornamental twigs with shiny evergreen
leaves and numerous red berries have been used as holiday decorations and make cheerful accents in the winter landscape. The leaves and twigs contain caffeine, and American Indians used them to prepare a tea, which they drank in large quantities ceremonially and then vomited back up, lending the plant its species name, vomitoria
. The vomiting was self-induced or because of other ingredients added; it doesnt actually cause vomiting. Tribes from the interior traveled to the coast in large numbers each spring to partake of this tonic, and it was also a common hospitality drink among many groups. It remained popular as such among southeastern Americans into the 20th century and is still occasionally consumed today, with a flavor resembling another holly drink, the South American yerba mate, from Ilex paraguariensis
. Yaupon is slow-growing and tends to get thick and twiggy on the inside, making it ideal for dense hedges but requiring careful pruning to shape it into a tree. You must have both a male and female plant to have berries. Nursery plants are typically female (fruiting) and are propagated by cuttings.
Image Gallery: 34 photo(s) available
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May
, VA Native Distribution:
w. to AR,
& s.c. TX Native Habitat:
Low, maritime woods; hammocks; sandy pinelands; limestone uplands.
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Low Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade , Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist , Dry CaCO3 Tolerance:
Low Cold Tolerant:
Moist or well drained, sandy, loamy, clay, limestone, or gravelly soils. Conditions Comments:
Yaupon is a versatile plant that tolerates drought and poor drainage, with best production of red fruit
gets half a day of sun or more.
A densely branching, evergreen shrub
or small tree
that can take severe hedging and pruning. Females have decorative red berries. Many cultivars available, including weeping, columnar, and dwarf varieties. Use Wildlife:
Many species of birds eat the fruit
but usually only in late winter after several freezes and thaws. Mammals eat the fruit
as well, and the flowers attract insects. Birds employ the dense branches for nesting sites. Use Medicinal:
The young leaves and twigs contain caffeine and may be used to make a tea. Use Other:
Fruiting branches used as holiday decorations. Interesting Foliage:
Birds , Butterflies Larval Host:
Henrys Elfin butterfly Nectar Source:
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for: