Ilex vomitoria
Common Name: yaupon 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Native Range: Southeastern United States, Mexico
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 10.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Evergreen
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Air Pollution


Grow in average, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. In its native habitat, it grows in dry to wet conditions, in a variety of soils and in sun or shade. It generally tolerates more drought than most other hollies. Although it is a popular landscape plant in the southeastern U.S., it is not winter hardy to the St. Louis area where, if attempted, it should be grown in a protected location with a winter mulch. Prune in winter if needed. Plants of this species are dioecious (separate male and female plants). Female plants need a male pollinator in the area in order to bear fruit. Promptly remove root suckers unless naturalization is desired.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ilex vomitoria, commonly known as Yaupon, is native to a variety of areas including sandy woods, dunes, open fields, forest edges and wet swamps, often along the coastal plain and maritime forests, from Virginia to Florida, Arkansas and Texas. This is a thicket-forming, broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree that typically grows in an upright, irregularly branched form to 10-20’ tall and to 10’ wide, but may grow taller in optimum conditions. Elliptic to ovate-oblong, leathery, glossy, evergreen, dark green leaves (to 1.5” long) have toothed margins. Small greenish-white flowers appear on male and female plants in spring (April). Flowers are fragrant but generally inconspicuous. Pollinated flowers on female plants give way to berry-like red (infrequently yellow) fruits (1/4” diameter) which ripen in fall and persist into winter. Birds are attracted to the fruit.

Native American Indians used the leaves to make a ceremonial emetic drink which, when consumed in large quantities, caused a cleansing now memorialized by the specific epithet.

Genus name comes from the Latin name Quercus ilex for holm oak in reference to the foliage similarities (holm oak and many of the shrubs in the genus Ilex have evergreen leaves).

Specific epithet refers to the emetic quality of the leaves.


Winter hardiness in St. Louis is a significant concern. In their native habitat, plants have good resistance to insects and diseases. Potential insect problems include holly leaf miner, spider mites, whitefly and scale. Potential disease problems include leaf spot, leaf rot, tar spot and powdery mildew.


Very popular in the deep South where it is often used as a hedge, screen, windbreak or barrier. Topiary.