Ilex vomitoria

Botanical Name : Ilex vomitoria
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Genus: Ilex
Species: I. vomitoria
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Aquifoliales

Common Names: Yaupon or Yaupon holl (The word yaupon was derived from its Catawban name, yopún, which is a diminutive form of the word yop, meaning “tree”. )

The ceremony included vomiting, and Europeans incorrectly believed that it was Ilex vomitoria that caused it (hence the Latin name). The active ingredients, like those of the related yerba mate and guayusa plants, are actually caffeine and theobromine, and the vomiting either was learned or resulted from the great quantities in which they drank the beverage coupled with fasting. Others believe the Europeans improperly assumed the black drink to be the tea made from Ilex vomitoria when it was likely an entirely different drink made from various roots and herbs and did have emetic properties.

Habitat : Ilex vomitoria is native to North America from Maryland south to Florida and west to Oklahoma and Texas. A disjunct population occurs in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It generally occurs in coastal areas in well-drained sandy soils, and can be found on the upper edges of brackish and salt marshes, sandy hammocks, coastal sand dunes, inner-dune depressions, sandhills, maritime forests, nontidal forested wetlands, well-drained forests and pine flatwoods.

Description:
Yaupon holly is an evergreen shrub or small tree reaching 5–9 meters tall, with smooth, light gray bark and slender, hairy shoots. The leaves are alternate, ovate to elliptical with a rounded apex and crenate or coarsely serrated margin, 1-4.5 cm long and 1–2 cm broad, glossy dark green above, slightly paler below. The flowers are 5–5.5 mm diameter, with a white four-lobed corolla. The fruit is a small round, shiny, and red (occasionally yellow) drupe 4–6 mm diameter containing four pits, which are dispersed by birds eating the fruit. The species may be distinguished from the similar Ilex cassine by its smaller leaves with a rounded, not acute apex.
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Cultivation:
Succeeds in most soils so long as they are not water-logged. This species is not fully hardy in Britain, the plants are incapable of withstanding our hardest winters. A slow-growing species in the wild, often forming dense thickets from root suckers. The leaves remain on the plant for 2 – 3 years, falling just before the appearance of new leaves in the spring. Flowers are produced on the current year’s growth. Resents root disturbance, especially as the plants get older. It is best to place the plants into their permanent positions as soon as possible, perhaps giving some winter protection for their first year or two. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:
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[78, 80]. 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
Edible Uses: Native Americans used the leaves and stems to brew a tea, commonly thought to be called asi or black drink for male-only purification and unity rituals.

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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.

In 2013 a company in Cat Spring, Texas began selling yaupon tea online for people interested in the local food movement. Other companies have opened in Florida and Georgia

Medicinal Uses: 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.

Other Uses: Ornamental
Ilex vomitoria is a common landscape plant in the Southeastern United States. The most common cultivars are slow-growing shrubs popular for their dense, evergreen foliage and their adaptability to pruning into hedges of various shapes. These include:

* ‘Folsom Weeping’ — weeping cultivar
* ‘Grey’s Littleleaf’/’Grey’s Weeping’ — weeping cultivar
* ‘Nana’/’Compacta’ — dwarf female clone usually remaining below 1 m in height.
* ‘Pride of Houston’ — female clone similar to type but featuring improvements in form, fruiting, and foliage.
* ‘Schilling’s Dwarf’/’Stokes Dwarf’ — dwarf male clone that grows no more than 0.6 m tall and 1.2 m wide.
* ‘Will Flemming’ — male clone featuring a columnar growth habit.

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.

Known Hazards:
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.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilex_vomitoria
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_UZ.htm
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ilex+vomitoria

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