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Yaupon Holly Ilex vomitoria

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

Ilex vomitoria, commonly known as Yaupon, is native to a variety of areas including sandy woods, dunes, open fields, forest edges and wet swamps, often along the coastal plain and maritime forests, from Virginia to Florida, Arkansas and Texas. This is a thicket-forming, broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree that typically grows in an upright, irregularly branched form to 10-20’ tall and to 10’ wide, but may grow taller in optimum conditions. The bark is thin, smooth and light gray. As the tree ages, the bark might become a bit scaly.

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.

CAUSES ONLY LOW TOXICITY IF EATEN.

Genus name comes from the Latin name Quercus ilex for holm oak in reference to the foliage similarities (holm oak and many of the shrubs in the genus Ilex have evergreen leaves). Specific epithet refers to the emetic quality of the leaves.

I. decidua and I. opaca will cross pollinate to produce beautiful bright red fruits in the fall that persist into winter. It is usually multitrunked. Drought, salt and wet site tolerant. It makes a good screen plant and it transplants easily.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: In their native habitat, this plant has good resistance to insects and diseases. Potential insect problems include holly leaf miner, spider mites, whitefly and scale. Potential disease problems include leaf spot, leaf rot, tar spot and powdery mildew.

Cultivars:
  • 'Bordeaux'
  • 'Nana'
    dwarf
  • 'Pendula'
    weeping form
  • 'Stokes Dwarf'
  • 'Virginia Dare'
  • 'Will Flemming'
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#butterflies#evergreen#birds#pollinators#rain garden#wildlife plant#larval food#showy#salt tolerant#winter interest#berries#host#coastal#wet sites#winter cover#specialized bees#highly beneficial coastal plants
Cultivars:
  • 'Bordeaux'
  • 'Nana'
    dwarf
  • 'Pendula'
    weeping form
  • 'Stokes Dwarf'
  • 'Virginia Dare'
  • 'Will Flemming'
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#butterflies#evergreen#birds#pollinators#rain garden#wildlife plant#larval food#showy#salt tolerant#winter interest#berries#host#coastal#wet sites#winter cover#specialized bees#highly beneficial coastal plants
  • 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, NC
    Distribution:
    Coastal Plains and Maritime Forests, cultivated
    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 Enhancement
    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. - 20 ft. 0 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
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    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:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Good Drainage
    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 berry-like red-orange (infrequently yellow) 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 Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The Yaupon holly has small greenish-white flowers that appear on male and female plants in the spring (April). The flowers are fragrant but generally inconspicuous.
  • 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 toothed margins.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Bark Description:
    The bark is thin, smooth and light gray. As the tree ages, the bark might become a bit scaly.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Rain Garden
    Water Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Screen/Privacy
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Salt
    Wet Soil
  • Poison:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Illicin, possibly saponic glycosides, and triterpenoids
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits