Ilex Species, Yerba Mate, Paraguay Tea, Paraguayan Tea

Ilex paraguariensis

Family: Aquifoliaceae (a-kwee-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ilex (EYE-leks) (Info)
Species: paraguariensis (par-uh-gwar-ee-EN-sis) (Info)
Synonym:Ilex curitibensis
Synonym:Ilex domestica
Synonym:Ilex mate
Synonym:Ilex sorbilis
Synonym:Ilex theaezans



Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)


Unknown - Tell us


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)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Gainesville, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Houston, Texas

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 17, 2016, tmccullo from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

My wife is from Buenos Aires and loves drinking mate. So we just had to get the tree. It is about 3 years old now and has been kept in a pot. Just transplanted it today and it is about 5' tall and has white flowers all over it.


On Aug 31, 2009, KanapahaLEW from Alachua, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

We have two of these growing in the Herb Garden at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. One has been there for a number of years and is about 12 feet tall but spindly such that it fits into a small bed with other low-growing plants around it. We are somewhere between zones 8b and 9a and this tree had no problem with one night of 18 degreesF last Winter. The soil has a pH of 7.2 and the site is in full sun. The other specimen was just planted this year in a somewhat poorly-draining, semi-shady area so results are inconclusive at this time.


On Feb 21, 2004, lunavox from Seattle, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I decided to grow yerba mate as a houseplant because I adore it as a tea. I knew I wouldn't use my plant for tea, but I like to grow plants that have some significance for me.

It is VERY easy to grow indoors. Even in sparse winter light, with regular watering it grows fast. Very appreciative of the bits of seaweed fertilizer I give it occasionally. It's also resistant to spider mites (!!)


On Aug 21, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

Many kinds of tea are made from this plant, depending on how the herb is prepared. In the southern Brazilian states they drink a strong one called "chimarro". Mat is also highly appreciated. Some studies, however, have been noticing a high incidence of mouth and throat cancer associated with the drinks made out of Ilex paraguariensis.


On Aug 21, 2003, criskolo wrote:

The leaves of this shrub are brewed to make a kind of tea called Mat in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. It contains caffeine, tastes bitter (that is why some people add sugar in it) but it is really good!!!