Ilex vomitoria, Yaupon Holly, Black Drink

Ilex vomitoria, Yaupon Holly, Black Drink. North America's only caffeine-containing plant, yaupon tea is loaded with antioxidants. You can buy evergreen, red-fruited yaupon hollies at every nursery in the South. Common in forests of south Arkansas, it evolved in the Ouachita Mountains, then spread throughout the Southeast. If you were a pre-revolutionary European explorer entering a native village along the Gulf Coast, elders would greet you with an offering of yaupon holly tea. Native groups cultivated yaupon in naturalized groves beyond the plant’s natural range for many centuries. Today yaupon is making a comeback. Now an internet search for “asi tea” or “yaupon tea” will reveal several small companies offering yaupon holly products from Texas to Georgia. Enjoy it at the unique Yaupon Teahouse in Savannah, Georgia. Well-established as a beverage tea after the American Revolution, the Civil War disrupted sourcing in the South and relegated the plant to history until now. Confused botanical nomenclature, finally clarified in 1949, also influence perceptions about the plant. Since 1949, the accepted scientific name, bestowed on the plant in 1789 by English botanist William Aiton in Hortus Kewensis, lives in infamy— Ilex vomitoria.

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