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Yaupon Holly Ilex vomitoria

Other 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 an evergreen shrub or small tree native to the eastern USA and is primarily found in coastal NC. It can reach 10 to 20 feet tall and 8-12 feet wide.  Flowers appear in spring on separate male and female plants. Female shrubs produce red drupes in fall if fertilized. The plant will form thickets unless suckers are removed.

Plant in average well-drained soils in sun to shade. It is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and can withstand both drought and occasional flooding. It makes a good screen, windbreak, or security plant, grows rapidly, and 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 with rounded apex and base.
  • Very young stems are purplish in color and turn silvery-gray as they age.
  • Petioles are purplish.
  • Produces translucent red berries.
Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Bordeaux', 'Nana', 'Pendula', 'Stokes Dwarf', 'Taylor's Rudolph', 'Virginia Dare' , 'Will Fleming'
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#evergreen#rain garden#wildlife plant#showy#nectar plant#salt tolerant#cover plant#winter interest#barrier#security#berries#standing water#coastal#hedges#wet sites#flooding#specialized bees#food source#privacy#highly beneficial coastal plants#fire#high flammability#pest resistant#thickets#pruning#screening#pollinator plant#fantz#berry#larval host plant#wind break#food source winter#cover#food source nectar#food source soft-mast fruit#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#fruits#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#cover plant winter#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Bordeaux', 'Nana', 'Pendula', 'Stokes Dwarf', 'Taylor's Rudolph', 'Virginia Dare' , 'Will Fleming'
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#evergreen#rain garden#wildlife plant#showy#nectar plant#salt tolerant#cover plant#winter interest#barrier#security#berries#standing water#coastal#hedges#wet sites#flooding#specialized bees#food source#privacy#highly beneficial coastal plants#fire#high flammability#pest resistant#thickets#pruning#screening#pollinator plant#fantz#berry#larval host plant#wind break#food source winter#cover#food source nectar#food source soft-mast fruit#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#fruits#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#cover plant winter#audubon
  • 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. Also contains caffeine.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    USA, to Mexico
    Distribution:
    AL , AR , FL , GA , LA , MS , NC , OK , SC , TX , VA
    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. - 20 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant 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
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    1/4 inch red drupes in clusters mature in fall and persist into winter.
  • 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:
    Woody Plant 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:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    1.5-inch oval leaves are glossy green and leathery with toothed margins and rounded at base and tip.
  • 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
    Small Mammals
    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