Range/Geographical Distribution: The southeastern United States from Virginia to Texas and Oklahoma.
Habitat: The coastal plain and maritime forests including sandy areas, open fields, forest edges, and swamps.
Description: A member of the holly family that has shiny, evergreen leaves up to 1.5” in length and upright, gray, smooth trunks.
Size: Can reach 45 feet in height.
Breeding: Male and female plants produce small green/white flowers in the spring. Berry-like red fruits that are 1/4” diameter ripen on female plants in the fall.
Predators/Ecological Importance: The berries are an important winter food source for birds and small mammals. The dense leaves and branches also provide cover and nesting habitat for animals as well as food for white-tailed deer.
Conservation Status: No legal status.
Interesting Facts: Yaupon holly leaves and twigs contain caffeine. The American Indians used this plant to prepare a tea for ceremonies. They drank large quantities and then vomited the tea back up, hence the Latin name vomitoria. Yaupon holly does not actually induce vomiting and the tea is still enjoyed today.
On the Coast: Yaupon holly bushes are common along the edges of the saltmarsh and within the maritime forests of coastal Georgia.