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What Plant Is Important in September?

Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria)

Yaupon holly is a native, evergreen, thicket-forming shrub that can be found growing as an understory plant throughout eastern and south central Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and the southern U.S.

  • Can reach 25 feet in height with a diameter of up to 12 inches

  • Can be obnoxious and hard to control; a multi-stemmed shrub growing with post oak/blackjack timber to form a thicket that is practically impenetrable by man or beast

  • Smooth, brownish to mottled gray bark, small waxy dark green leaves, small white flowers blooming in April or May

  • Can produce an abundance of small shiny red berries that can be quite showy; often used as a holiday decoration

Yaupon holly has very little grazing value to domestic livestock, but can provide cover to animals during the winter months; the fruit is used by many bird species.

It was described by Cabeza de Vaca, an early Spanish explorer in 1528, as being used as a tea by Indians during ceremonial rituals.  It was called the “Black Drink”, and was thought to have medicinal qualities.

Yaupon is used today as a very popular landscaping plant because of the evergreen leaves and bright red berries. 

Editor’s note: Jeff Goodwin, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Kent Ferguson, recently retired from NRCS, are providing us with plant identification photo stories to help ranchers identify those forbs, forages and brush species growing in the pastures. Photos are provided by Stephen Deiss, NRCS, Victoria.

"What Plant is Important in September" is from the September 2014 issue of The Cattleman magazine.