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. 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. It is very popular in the deep South where it is often used as a hedge, screen, windbreak or barrier. Topiary.
The seeds have a dormancy period. They need a period of chilling which simulates winter conditions to break their dormancy.
- Soak the seeds in water for several hours.
- Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
- Put the seeds in the mixture.
- Put the mixture in a ziplock bag.
- Put the bag in the refrigerator and leave it there for 12 weeks.
- Sow the seeds in pots with potting soil. Cover them with a thin layer of soil.
- Water the seeds.
- The seeds will sprout in 1 to 2 weeks.
- When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.