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Ilex vomitoria

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Ilex ligustrina
Phonetic Spelling
EE-leks vom-ih-TOR-ee-ah
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Yaupon is a small, evergreen tree that may grow 10 to 20 feet tall. The leaves are alternate with a dentate margin. The bark is thin, smooth, and light gray. As the tree ages, the bark might become a bit scaly. In spring, small, greenish-white male flowers mature in clusters. Small, yellow-green, solitary female flowers mature at the same time. Female specimens produce dark red drupes that mature in late fall and early winter.

For best results, grow in average, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. In its native habitat, it grows in dry to wet conditions, in a variety of soils and in sun or shade. It generally tolerates more drought than most other hollies. Prune in winter if needed. Plants of this species are dioecious (separate male and female plants). Female plants need a male pollinator in the area in order to bear fruit. Promptly remove root suckers unless naturalization is desired. This species has been known to tolerate flooded conditions for extended periods of time. Tolerates salt and wet sites. It makes a good screen, windbreak, or security plant, grows rapidly, and it transplants easily. This plant can take heavy pruning and is good for topiary.

Fire Risk: This plant has a high flammability rating and should not be planted within the defensible space of your home. Select plants with a low flammability rating for the sites nearest your home. 

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  No insect or disease problems when planted in their native habitat.  Holly leaf miner, spider mites, whitefly, and scale are occasional problems. Leaf spot, leaf rot, tar spot, and powdery mildew are potential disease problems.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leaves are alternate, 1" long, 1/2" wide.
  • Very young stems are purplish in color and turn silvery-gray as they age.
  • Petioles are purplish.
  • Produces translucent red berries.
Profile Video:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#butterflies#evergreen#fruit#birds#rain garden#wildlife plant#showy#nectar plant#salt tolerant#cover plant#winter interest#host plant#barrier#berries#host#standing water#coastal#hedges#wet sites#winter cover#flooding#specialized bees#food source#privacy#highly beneficial coastal plants#fire#high flammability#pest resistant#thickets#pruning#screen#screening#pollinator plant#fantz#berry#larval host plant#secruity#wind break#food source winter#cover#butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#butterflies#evergreen#fruit#birds#rain garden#wildlife plant#showy#nectar plant#salt tolerant#cover plant#winter interest#host plant#barrier#berries#host#standing water#coastal#hedges#wet sites#winter cover#flooding#specialized bees#food source#privacy#highly beneficial coastal plants#fire#high flammability#pest resistant#thickets#pruning#screen#screening#pollinator plant#fantz#berry#larval host plant#secruity#wind break#food source winter#cover#butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ilex
    Species:
    vomitoria
    Family:
    Aquifoliaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Native American Indians used the leaves to make a ceremonial emetic drink which, when consumed in large quantities, caused a cleansing now memorialized by the specific epithet.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    USA, to Mexico
    Distribution:
    Coastal Plains and Maritime Forests, cultivated
    Fire Risk Rating:
    high flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    It is a host plant for the Henry's Elfin butterfly. Butterflies nectar at the blooms. The fruits are eaten by songbirds and small mammals. Also provides winter cover. Members of the genus Ilex support the following specialized bee: Colletes banksi.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This plant is highly resistant to damage from deer and salt tolerant.
    Edibility:
    The young leaves may be picked, browned and dried in an oven, steeped in hot water and used to make Yaupon tea. It contains caffeine.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 29 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Multi-trunked
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Pollinated flowers on female plants give way to shiny, globose, berry-like red-orange (infrequently yellow) translucent fruits (1/4” diameter) clustered along the stems, which ripen in fall and persist into winter. Birds are attracted to the fruit.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small greenish-white flowers that appear on male and female plants in the spring (April). The flowers are fragrant but generally inconspicuous. They grow solitary or in pairs and are clustered on peduncles in leaf axils.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Long-lasting
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Elliptic to ovate-oblong, alternate, simple, leathery, glossy, evergreen, dark green leaves (to 1.5” long) with shallowly toothed margins.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Thin, smooth and light gray. As the tree ages, the bark might become a bit scaly.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Young stems are purple and turn gray to white-gray as they age.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Rain Garden
    Water Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Security
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Salt
    Wet Soil
    Wind
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Illicin, possibly saponic glycosides, and triterpenoids
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits