Sixty images of Ilex vomitoria, yaupon holly. Yaupon holly is a northern genetic outlier to subtropical and tropical hollies. This shrub evolved in the Ouachita Mountains, then spread throughout the Southeastern United States. Anthropology reveals that if you were a European explorer entering an indigenous village along the Gulf Coast, the elders would greet you with an offering of yaupon holly tea, served up as a sacred or ceremonial beverage. It was called black drink as the leaves were usually decocted down to a thick brew. So how did the yaupon holly become North America’s only caffeine-containing plant forever forgotten as a beverage tea? The answer lies with the accepted scientific name bestowed on the plant by English botanist William Aiton in 1789—Ilex vomitoria.