Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria)

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Yaupon holly is a large shrub or small tree often used as an accent or screening plant. It is adapted to a variety of soil types and is shade and drought tolerant.  Female plants produce lots of attractive, red berries. The bark is smooth with a dark gray color. 

Yaupon is a versatile plant that tolerates drought and poor drainage, with best production of red fruit when in full sun. Many species of birds eat the fruit but usually only in late winter. Birds use the dense branches for nesting sites. Yaupon holly can be grown as an understory tree. It has more of an open growth habit in the shade. 

Young leaves and twigs contain caffeine and may be used to make a tea. Avoid the berries as they will make you vomit. Fruiting branches can used as holiday decorations. 


  • Texas native
  • Drought tolerant
  • Full sun to shade
  • 12-25 ft tall
  • Wildlife value: butterflies, bees
  • Host plant: Henry's Elfin butterfly



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