Yaupon Holly Tree Growing Profile

Yaupon Holly Berries
Photo credit John Dreyer / Getty Images

The yaupon holly is a small evergreen tree will add color to your garden throughout the year with its green leaves and red berries.

Latin Name

This member of the Aquifoliaceae (holly) family has been given the name of Ilex vomitoria. The species name vomitoria came about because of its use in Native American ceremonies that included vomiting.

Common Names

There are many common names that you may see used for this tree.

They are yaupon holly, yaupon, emetic holly, cassine, cassina, cassena, evergreen holly, evergreen cassena, Christmas berry, or Indian blackdrink.

The word yaupon is taken from the word yopún, which comes from the Catawban language.

Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones

The yaupon prefers to be planted in USDA Zones 7-9. It originally comes from the southeastern United States.

Size and Shape

This plant can either be a shrub or small tree based on growing conditions and the cultivar chosen. Heights can be anywhere from 4-30' tall.


Plant in a site that receives full sun to part shade.

Foliage, Flowers, and Fruit

The glossy green leaves are oval and up to one inch long, featuring fine-toothed margins. The tooths on the margin may be pointed or rounded.

Each plant produces little white male or female flowers in the spring, though only the females will bear fruit.

Little red berries appear on the female trees.

Sometimes they may be yellow. They work well to add winter interest and provide food for birds.

Design Tips for the Yaupon Holly

If you live near the ocean or other locations with higher levels of salt in the soil and air, this tree is a good choice since it will tolerate salinity well. It is also a drought tolerant tree if the roots are properly established.

Since these trees are dioecious, you will need at least one male and one female if you want the female to produce red berries.

Birds like to snack on the fruit so this is a welcome addition to any garden if you are into birding.

Growing Tips for the Yaupon Holly

Acidic or neutral soil is needed by this plant for proper growth. It does best in sandy soils but is able to handle other types also.

Maintenance and Pruning

There is a possibility of suckers forming and causing new trees to grow. If you remove them, you may need to use a herbicide like glyphosate or they will keep coming back.

You can use this holly species to create formal hedges, informal hedges, or topiaries.

Pests and Diseases of the Yaupon Holly

The yaupon does not usually face problems from diseases. Some that can strike include:

  • Cylindrocladium leaf spot (Cylindrocladium spp.)
  • Dieback
  • Leaf rots
  • Leaf spots
  • Phytophtora root rot
  • Powdery mildew
  • Sphaeropsis gall (Sphaeropsis tumefaciens)
  • Tar spot

Some pests that you may see include:

  • Aphids
  • Florida wax scale (Ceroplastes floridensis)
  • Holly leaf miner (Phytomyza ilicis)
  • Mites
  • Root knot nematodes
  • Tea scale (Fiorinia theae)