Herb: Yaupon Holly


Latin name: Ilex vomitoria


Family: Aquifoliaceae (Holly Family)



Medicinal use of Yaupon Holly:

A decoction of the leaves is emetic. The plant was used ritually by several N. American Indian tribes. The leaves were toasted over a fire and then boiled for several hours. The resulting thick black liquid was then drunk and this was followed by immediate vomiting. This was often used a a purification rite prior to hunting.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Shrub

Height:
6 m
(20 feet)

Flovering:
April
to May

Habitat of the herb:

Sandy woods and clearings. Low moist woods, especially near the coast. Often forming dense thickets along streams and pond margins and shallow swamp lands.

Edible parts of Yaupon Holly:

A mildly stimulating beverage containing caffeine is made from the dried and roasted leaves. The tea is stimulating and intoxicating. The leaves are first steeped in cold and then in boiling water. They are also used to flavour ice cream and soft drinks.

Other uses of the herb:

This species is occasionally used for hedging in the southern states of America. Wood - hard, heavy, strong, close grained. It weighs 46lb per cubic foot. Too small for commercial exploitation, the wood is used locally for turnery, inlay work, woodenware etc.

Propagation of Yaupon Holly:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. It can take 18 months to germinate. Stored seed generally requires two winters and a summer before it will germinate and should be sown as soon as possible in a cold frame. Scarification, followed by a warm stratification and then a cold stratification may speed up the germination time. The seedlings are rather slow-growing. Pot them up into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame for their first year. It is possible to plant them out into a nursery bed in late spring of the following year, but they should not be left here for more than two years since they do not like being transplanted. Alternatively, grow them on in their pots for a second season and then plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Give them a good mulch and some protection for their first winter outdoors. Cuttings of almost ripe wood with a heel, August in a shaded position in a cold frame. Leave for 12 months before potting up. Layering in October. Takes 2 years.

Cultivation of the herb:

Sandy woods and clearings. Low moist woods, especially near the coast. Often forming dense thickets along streams and pond margins and shallow swamp lands.

Known hazards of Ilex vomitoria:

Although no specific reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, the fruits of at least some members of this genus contain saponins and are slightly toxic. They can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and stupor if eaten in quantity. The fruit is poisonous.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.