Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)

December 2017

During the Civil War, holly was used by Southerners as a substitute for coffee and black tea

- Grows in the U.S. from Maryland south to Florida and west to Oklahoma and Texas.

- Also called yaupon, evergreen holly, Indian black drink, Christmas berry.

- Common landscape plant used in Southeastern U.S. Most common cultivars are slow-growing shrubs popular for their dense, evergreen foliage and their adaptability to pruning hedges of various shapes.

- Leaves contain more caffeine by weight than both coffee and green tea and have the highest caffeine content of any plant native to North America. Only native North American plant that contains caffeine.

- Native Americans used the leaves and stems to brew a tea. Was used for male-only purification and unity rituals. The ceremony included vomiting, which Europeans believed was caused by plant (hence the Latin name).

- Fruit is a small, round, shiny red (sometimes yellow) drupe. Fruits are technically drupes, not berries. A drupe is a fruit with thin skin and a central stone containing the seed (like plums, cherries and olives).

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