Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Yaupon Holly
Ilex vomitoria

Family: Aquifoliaceae (a-kwee-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ilex (EYE-leks) (Info)
Species: vomitoria (vom-ih-TOR-ee-uh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

19 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors
By stooling or mound layering

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 14 photos.
Click here to view them all!


8 positives
2 neutrals
3 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Nov 14, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

There are some planted in southeast Pennsylvania and they look like a good broadleaf small tree to me. Like many other evergreen hollies with some sharp teeth on the leaves, they can poke one some, but not as bad as some others.

Negative ATD4411 On Feb 26, 2013, ATD4411 from Montgomery, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Negative for me because the berries are toxic to my dogs and the dogs get covered in the stickers. I just moved onto a 5-acre property where the Yuapon variety is highly overgrown and everywhere! Yes, the berries were pretty this past fall but it spreads and grows over and above everything in its path.

It's gotta go!

Negative yaupon_nazi On Feb 9, 2013, yaupon_nazi from Richardson, TX wrote:

I go with queenb on this!!!
These shrubs are in my back yard between the fence and pool and their runners are on the other side of the fence and on the top of the fence and in my neighbors yard in my front yard and in-between my window panes All from just 4 shrubs in the back yard.
I bought the house with them and had NO idea what a pain they would be! They aren't in sandy soil but black gumbo with 8 inches of lava rock (not my idea either!)
Does anyone know of a way to kill them short of bulldozers, hand grenades or nuclear strikes? It guzzles round-up and doesn't even burp! Help!!!

Neutral TxSugarMagnolia On Jun 9, 2012, TxSugarMagnolia from Yoakum, TX wrote:

Help! Our Yaupon is dropping leaves like crazy; I've not know this to happen around here. They may not be established well yet; were planted by a local nursery staff in our yard this February at about 3 feet tall. Both were doing well until a couple weeks ago; most leaves turned brown/black and have dropped off. There are some new green leaves coming in, though, and branches are still green inside, so plant has not died yet (?). Did have small white flowers on it when they were planted.

Do these "evergreens" molt leaves like this from time to time? Have watered every 3-4 days, with a little rain in between, and have them in full morning sun/partial evening sun. I've not seen the native ones around here doing this. Has anyone else experienced this? Thanx, TXSugarMagnolia, Yoakum Texas

Positive Fires_in_motion On Oct 26, 2011, Fires_in_motion from Vacherie, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

This tree is an amazing national treasure. If it were from some obscure Asian or South American province, American collectors would be freaking out over it and starting "societies" to cultivate it, but, being "just" a native, it gets short shrift. It has a natural bonsai-esque habit, and whose small leaves enhance the bonsai look. It's pretty much the Swiss Army Knife of Southern shrubs, with the ability to grow straight up and zig-zag out in many directions, or to lean towards light if grown in shade on the edge of a group of large trees. It looks amazing when pollarded / coppiced. Or just keep it in a big pot forever. It has the look of an olive tree, but takes humidity and rain much better than olives. The silvery bark is quite striking, especially on old specimens, whose trunks can look almost white. This tree's berry production is legendary.

I personally have the plain-old species, which I dug up as a baby seedling 3 years ago; two of the 'Hoskins Shadow' cultivar, which supposedly get a bit smaller than the species; and over a dozen of the very dwarf 'Bordeaux' cultivar.

I can only assume that those calling I. vomitoria invasive are smoking crack.

Positive rsims On Apr 1, 2009, rsims from Austin, TX wrote:

currently have a row of these growing in hopes of creating a privacy screen. they're doing great but i'm seeking advice on the best way to prune them so that they'll start growing a bit wider. they're getting a bit leggy but reaching for the sky! thanks for any advice!

Positive Pughbear7 On Nov 3, 2008, Pughbear7 from Tulsa, OK (Zone 6b) wrote:

I really like this plant because of its tolerance to sheering into a lot of different shapes even topiaries with time. Being a native to west texa it lends itself to a drought resistance landscape (Xeriscape).

Neutral katlowe On Jul 8, 2006, katlowe from Pasadena, TX wrote:

We recently purchased 200 acres in Groesbeck, TX and these Yaupons which I have always admired in the past seem to run amuck in this sandy soil. The trees and other foliage are very thick and we would love someone who wants to harvest these Yaupons (and/or cedar) to contact us. I am a tree hugger and don't want to bulldoze anything. Help!

Positive gooley On Apr 28, 2006, gooley from Hawthorne, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Yeah, it does sucker. On the flip side, it's adaptable, and here on its native turf it is indestructible. On a visit to the Dallas area I noticed that it's used in the landscaping everywhere there, much more so than here in North Florida, and usually clipped aggressively to shape. I was sleepy so I chewed its leaves, which are very rich in compounds related to caffeine but which are less prone (in some people, supposedly) to cause the jitters. They're very bitter -- mostly from those compounds, yes -- and chewing wee leaves off bushes will freak people out. The leaves can be made into a tea, rather like that made from the leaves of the related yerba mate'; the Seminole made their infamous "black drink" from yaupon leaves and drank it in quantity in order to see visions -- with vomiting as a frequent side effect, hence the specific name. They cultivated a grove near Naples, Florida, well south of the plant's natural range; it is, as I mentioned, adaptable.

Positive escambiaguy On Jan 21, 2005, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have many of these on my property. They can range from low shrubs to small trees. The female plants are beautiful in the winter when they are covered with berries. As stated above, mockingbirds seem to love them. Yaupon is very effective when used for natural privacy screening.

Negative QueenB On Oct 23, 2004, QueenB from Shepherd, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

One plant that I'll be digging out, cutting down, and killing off for the rest of my natural life. We are the first to inhabit my property, and as a native, it's done its fair share of invading disturbed forest, a result of logging. It sends out miles of runners, will root along the trunk if knocked down, and if the main stem is killed off, will send up a hundred suckers in it's place. I have one token plant in my yard that I trim as a hedge because my huband likes it. Because of it's very rapid growth, it will quickly choke out other understory trees and plants.

Positive thesmorphoros On Sep 4, 2004, thesmorphoros from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have one mature specimen yaupon, and it's a beauty. These babies take shaping very well, and make great small trees under the canopy of larger ones. East of Austin, in Bastrop county, they are considered a pest, spreading rapidly through the sandy soil by runners.

Positive ButterflyGardnr On Jan 9, 2003, ButterflyGardnr from Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant is extremely versatile and adaptable. It will tolerate salt spray, highly alkaline soils, and it's drought tolerant. The berries are eaten by the birds, and mockingbirds seem to be especially attracted to them. Male trees are needed to get good fruit production on the female trees. The bark is a smooth, milky, whitish-gray color. I have several varieties of this plant in the landscape. One is a weeping form of the tree. Another is a new cultivar 'Will Fleming,' which has a very tall and thin shape (about 2 feet across) and only has male plants. There is a dwarf variety, 'Schellings Dwarf' that grows to about 2-3 ft. tall and forms a dense, small shrub. Cultivar 'Jewel' provides a large amount of berries. The leaves can be roasted and brewed to make a highly-caffienated tea. This plant has more caffiene in it's leaves than in any other known plant, including coffee. Native Americans made "black drink" from the leaves , caused vomiting (thus the species name "vomitoria").


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Atmore, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Midland City, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Tuskegee, Alabama
Morrilton, Arkansas
Wilmington, Delaware
Bartow, Florida
Dunnellon, Florida
Ellenton, Florida
Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Hawthorne, Florida
Lake City, Florida
North Fort Myers, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Palmetto, Florida
Trenton, Florida
Venice, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Decatur, Georgia
New Orleans, Louisiana
Springfield, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
Perkinston, Mississippi
Saucier, Mississippi
Waynesboro, Mississippi
Davidson, North Carolina
Emerald Isle, North Carolina
Pinehurst, North Carolina
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Knoxville, Tennessee
Abilene, Texas
Alice, Texas (2 reports)
Arlington, Texas
Athens, Texas
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Belton, Texas
Bryan, Texas
Carrollton, Texas
Desoto, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Groesbeck, Texas
Huntsville, Texas
Leander, Texas
Montgomery, Texas
Port Neches, Texas
Richardson, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Shepherd, Texas
Yoakum, Texas
Roanoke, Virginia
Williamsburg, Virginia

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