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Yaupon Holly

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Peanut

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Yaupon Holly aka ilex-vomitoria

Disclaimer first... I'm 99.9% sure these photos are of Yaupon Holly but it's been 13 years since I've seen one. I won't forget these photos or this post... The next time I take cattle south I'll stop and check a few plants.

All along the coastal plain from Texas, to Florida up to Virginia... Yaupon is fairly common. But just a few miles from the coastal plain and they are nowhere to be found in the wild... Except today I found one almost 80 miles from the coastal plain. I think I found a variety of Yaupon that was once widely used as an ornamental. I think what I found is Ilex vomitoria var. pendula. It has all the characteristics. Wild native Yaupon, which is what I have seen in the past, is slightly different.

Of interest to preppers is the caffeine content which is quite high. 4 or 5 leaves steeped for 10 minutes or so produces a very strong black drink. However since Yaupon is an "Emetic" (an agent that induces vomiting)... 3 or 4 mugs of "yaupon coffee" and you'll wish you hadn't. Unless you like the feel of cool porcelain on your forehead. But 1 strong mug? Why not?

Although it has some medicinal uses very little is written about it and its cousin, ilex opaca aka American Holly. They treat various intestinal maladies and as an additive in flu formulas but have never been widely used except by native tribes of the southeastern US, especially the Creek Tribes of Alabama. It was a manly drink and one had high standing in the tribe if one could down several cups... and keep them down... :rolleyes:

This native usage comes to us mainly from a man named Billy Powell. Billy Powell is also known to most americans by another name - "Osceloa", the great Seminole warrior. Seminoles were in fact an offshoot of the Creek tribes, known as lesser Creeks.

I’ve posted about another plant that has caffeine here

Preppers Should Invest in Coffee

Cleavers

I urge everyone to read the following article about yaupon and it’s history, quite interesting.

Credit for the following goes to Green Deane at his website... which every forager should have bookmarked.


The Yaupon Holly is North America’s version Yerba Mate, which is Ilex paraguariensis. Preparation of Yaupon (YAH-pon) ranges from putting four or five leaves in hot water — not boiling — for five or six minutes to elaborate drying, steaming, roasting and percolation. Some brew leaves and twigs. Not only does Yaupon have more caffeine than any other species in North America it also is high in antioxidants. A 2009 article in the Journal of Economic Botany recommended it become a commercial crop. Not surprising, a 1919 journal article recommended it as well. Spanish colonists in early Florida drank Yaupon tea. One priest in 1615 wrote: “There is no Spaniard or Indian who does not drink it every day in the morning or evening.” They called it “Indian Tea” or Cacina (the latter a name that confounded botanists for a few centuries.) In the 1700s English settlers in the Carolinas drank the “Indian tea” daily. It was very popular in the second half of the 1800s but fell out of favor. Scholars don’t know why but one would think the proliferation of coffee might of had something to do with it.

Left on its own the Yaupon Holly is a spindly understory tree, never growing much presence or height. The best examples of the species I know are cultivated ones in the landscaping of the Winter Park Library, in Winter Park, Florida. It’s easy to miss the native tree in the forest. However, two of its cultivars are very well known.

Ilex vomitoria var. nana

If nature makes a slight variation in a species it is called a variety. If man makes a variety it is called a cultivar. Two cultivars of the Ilex vomitoria are quite common. The most common is Ilex nana, or Ilex vomitoria var. nana. It is the ubiquitous hedge plant of the south. In fact there are some 17 different varieties of it. Thus finding a caffeine substitute is not difficult at all. The only question is how wholesome is the water and the environment where the hedge is located.

Ilex vomitoria var. pendula

The second cultivar is more dramatic, the Weeping Holly, or Ilex vomitoria var. pendula. It makes a very attractive statement in landscaping growing into a mid-sized tree with red berries (not edible.) Sometimes it is also trimmed to look like an upside down bowl. Researchers report that under controlled agricultural conditions the pendula variation produced the most caffeine of all. The amount of caffeine in the “vomitorias” varies depending upon how much nitrogen they are fed. More nitrogen, more caffeine.

Many years ago in the Orlando Public Library I found a crumbling book written Dr. William A. Morrill. a plant PhD. He wrote in 1940 the best Yaupon “tea” was made by using an equal mix of chopped brown dry roasted leaves and chopped steamed green leaves. While Yaupon Holly tea does have a caffeine it is practically free of tannin, which reduces bitterness considerably.

The odd finding, according to the researchers however, was the presence of anti-oxidants in the leaves. This was influenced by sunlight. The more sunlight the plant received the more anti-oxidants, or perhaps said correctly, the less shade the more anti-oxidants. While the researchers said more testing was needed it would appear that an Ilex vomitoria var. pendula grown in full sun and fed a high-nitrogen fertilizer would produce the maximum amount of caffeine and anti-oxidants. They recommended it become a commercial crop.


Yaupon 01 (3) sm.JPGYaupon 01 (4) sm.JPG
 
Last edited:

joel

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I have 'Folsom Weeping': a weeping cultivar that grows 15 to 20 feet high with a spread of 10 to 15 feet .
It has much smaller leaves than the one you have.


Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)
Marcus, Joseph A.
Ilex vomitoria
 

Grizzleyette___Adams

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I love this plant! It looks like I and Peanut are equally enthusiastic about it, too!

For years I have extolled the virtues of Yaupon tea, especially as a caffeine alternative.

To my knowledge, it is the only plant native to North America that contains caffeine. It is said to have the same amount of caffeine as in a cup of black tea, which is nice. Native Americans bruised the yaupon leaves after picking them and roasted them until they were dark before brewing the leaves.

Here's more information for the uninitiated including how to prepare yaupon:

Foraging Texas

Yaupon Holly – Make Tea from Leaves | Walter Reeves: The Georgia Gardener

If you want to grow it, here is more info on that:

https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ilvo

How to Propagate Yaupons

Learn How to Grow and Care for Yaupon Holly Plant

If it is not native to your area, you can buy seeds, live plants:

https://www.google.com/search?q=ile...7j0j69i65j0.7815j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

The scientific name for Yaupon, Ilex vomitoria, has been the center of much controversy. I'd like to shed some little known facts that might put things in the right perspective.

Because yaupon is once again becoming a popular morning beverage (as evident by brisk internet sales and Amazon reviews, forum/Facebook comments, etc.), I tend to agree with this explanation of the scientific name, Ilex vomitoria:

https://www.navasotaexaminer.com/lifestyles/article_0188da02-c67f-11e8-91cf-0b837035d559.html

Excerpts from the link:

"The plant’s genus, Ilex, refers to another plant which it resembles. Vomitoria refers to what it sounds like, vomiting. That name is based on Europeans’ misunderstanding of a Native American ceremony. "

English naturalist Mark Catesby wrote “Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands” between 1729 and 1747. In Volume II page 57 he describes how Native Americans prepared yaupon holly, “They say, that from the earliest times the virtues of this shrub has been known, and in use among them, prepared in the manner they now do it, which is after having dryed [sic], or rather parched the leaves in a porrage-pot over a slow fire… they prepare their beloved liquor.” He described a cleansing ritual held one day a year. Members of the tribe drank black drink to induce “spring cleaning” (vomiting). It is believed that other ingredients were added to create a special mixture. This is what lead to the misunderstanding. The rest of the year they used an infusion of yaupon leaves the way we drink coffee and tea.

American colonists were still drinking yaupon tea after the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). There is no agreed upon reason as to why the drink fell out of favor. Maybe imports of coffee and regular tea became more popular. Some say that the Civil War disrupted the yaupon holly supply chain and it was forgotten. In the mid-20th century it was “rediscovered,” but trying to sell a product named for vomit was a hard sell."


In spite of the hard sell, not one person in any of the thousands of reviews or anywhere on the entire internet has ever mentioned a word about feeling nauseous after consuming roasted yaupon tea, much less actually vomiting. I am pretty sure that by now, more than a few people probably have gone overboard by drinking a lot more than what is "normal,' and would have reported something about ill-effects after drinking a large amount. But nada. Ain't dere.

Unfortunately, the myth that has persisted since an 18th century Colonial misunderstanding of the exact ingredients of an ancient Native American ritual is still with us.

Nevermind them. Get you some Yaupon and enjoy!
 

Peanut

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@Grizzleyette___Adams The link to the article returns and error at the moment.

I'd like to read it. The write says the genus ilex refers to different plant. Did the writer give the "proper" genus to clarify his claim?

The plant grows wild at Moundville al in the Moundville Archaeological Park (Moundville Archaeological Park – University of Alabama Museums). That's were I saw it last. Darryl was there teaching the plant in the spring. That fall there was a native american festival at the park where I saw yaupon tea made. They used the same plant Darryl taught me which is ilex vomitoria. I'd really like to clear up this bit of confusion over names.

FYI - if anyone passes through the area the Moundville Archaeological Park is a great place to visit. There are 29 mounds built by the mound building tribes (AD 1120 and AD 1650) covering 300 acres. There is a Native American festival there every fall.

Back to the plant I posted above... All I could do was stare at it. I knew that I should know what it was but couldn't recall. A half hour later in the grocery store I remembered - Yaupon. It'd been too long since I'd seen one and I don't know anyone personally who uses the plant.
 
Last edited:

Meerkat

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Yaupon Holly aka ilex-vomitoria

Disclaimer first... I'm 99.9% sure these photos are of Yaupon Holly but it's been 13 years since I've seen one. I won't forget these photos or this post... The next time I take cattle south I'll stop and check a few plants.

All along the coastal plain from Texas, to Florida up to Virginia... Yaupon is fairly common. But just a few miles from the coastal plain and they are nowhere to be found in the wild... Except today I found one almost 80 miles from the coastal plain. I think I found a variety of Yaupon that was once widely used as an ornamental. I think what I found is Ilex vomitoria var. pendula. It has all the characteristics. Wild native Yaupon, which is what I have seen in the past, is slightly different.

Of interest to preppers is the caffeine content which is quite high. 4 or 5 leaves steeped for 10 minutes or so produces a very strong black drink. However since Yaupon is an "Emetic" (an agent that induces vomiting)... 3 or 4 mugs of "yaupon coffee" and you'll wish you hadn't. Unless you like the feel of cool porcelain on your forehead. But 1 strong mug? Why not?

Although it has some medicinal uses very little is written about it and its cousin, ilex opaca aka American Holly. They treat various intestinal maladies and as an additive in flu formulas but have never been widely used except by native tribes of the southeastern US, especially the Creek Tribes of Alabama. It was a manly drink and one had high standing in the tribe if one could down several cups... and keep them down... :rolleyes:

This native usage comes to us mainly from a man named Billy Powell. Billy Powell is also known to most americans by another name - "Osceloa", the great Seminole warrior. Seminoles were in fact an offshoot of the Creek tribes, known as lesser Creeks.

I’ve posted about another plant that has caffeine here

Preppers Should Invest in Coffee

Cleavers

I urge everyone to read the following article about yaupon and it’s history, quite interesting.

Credit for the following goes to Green Deane at his website... which every forager should have bookmarked.


The Yaupon Holly is North America’s version Yerba Mate, which is Ilex paraguariensis. Preparation of Yaupon (YAH-pon) ranges from putting four or five leaves in hot water — not boiling — for five or six minutes to elaborate drying, steaming, roasting and percolation. Some brew leaves and twigs. Not only does Yaupon have more caffeine than any other species in North America it also is high in antioxidants. A 2009 article in the Journal of Economic Botany recommended it become a commercial crop. Not surprising, a 1919 journal article recommended it as well. Spanish colonists in early Florida drank Yaupon tea. One priest in 1615 wrote: “There is no Spaniard or Indian who does not drink it every day in the morning or evening.” They called it “Indian Tea” or Cacina (the latter a name that confounded botanists for a few centuries.) In the 1700s English settlers in the Carolinas drank the “Indian tea” daily. It was very popular in the second half of the 1800s but fell out of favor. Scholars don’t know why but one would think the proliferation of coffee might of had something to do with it.

Left on its own the Yaupon Holly is a spindly understory tree, never growing much presence or height. The best examples of the species I know are cultivated ones in the landscaping of the Winter Park Library, in Winter Park, Florida. It’s easy to miss the native tree in the forest. However, two of its cultivars are very well known.

Ilex vomitoria var. nana

If nature makes a slight variation in a species it is called a variety. If man makes a variety it is called a cultivar. Two cultivars of the Ilex vomitoria are quite common. The most common is Ilex nana, or Ilex vomitoria var. nana. It is the ubiquitous hedge plant of the south. In fact there are some 17 different varieties of it. Thus finding a caffeine substitute is not difficult at all. The only question is how wholesome is the water and the environment where the hedge is located.

Ilex vomitoria var. pendula

The second cultivar is more dramatic, the Weeping Holly, or Ilex vomitoria var. pendula. It makes a very attractive statement in landscaping growing into a mid-sized tree with red berries (not edible.) Sometimes it is also trimmed to look like an upside down bowl. Researchers report that under controlled agricultural conditions the pendula variation produced the most caffeine of all. The amount of caffeine in the “vomitorias” varies depending upon how much nitrogen they are fed. More nitrogen, more caffeine.

Many years ago in the Orlando Public Library I found a crumbling book written Dr. William A. Morrill. a plant PhD. He wrote in 1940 the best Yaupon “tea” was made by using an equal mix of chopped brown dry roasted leaves and chopped steamed green leaves. While Yaupon Holly tea does have a caffeine it is practically free of tannin, which reduces bitterness considerably.

The odd finding, according to the researchers however, was the presence of anti-oxidants in the leaves. This was influenced by sunlight. The more sunlight the plant received the more anti-oxidants, or perhaps said correctly, the less shade the more anti-oxidants. While the researchers said more testing was needed it would appear that an Ilex vomitoria var. pendula grown in full sun and fed a high-nitrogen fertilizer would produce the maximum amount of caffeine and anti-oxidants. They recommended it become a commercial crop.


View attachment 55841View attachment 55842
Looks just like the one outside our back door, neighbor calls it a Florida Holly.All kinds of bee species love it so does a mocking bird who protects for last 8 or 10 yr.s.
 

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