|Yaupon, Ilex vomitoria|
Yaupon, Ilex vomitoria, is a native holly to the southeastern portions of the United States. It is a dioecious species, the distinction between male and female visible by berry production, which may grow as high as 8 m (26 ft), but has been readily cultivated for residential landscapes. While the berries are poisonous to humans, many wildlife species, including songbirds and small mammals, readily consume them. The highly adaptable and tolerant shrub is often used as a hedge species, but perhaps its most interesting aspect is that it is the only native plant that produces substantial amounts of caffeine. The amount of caffeine has been shown to decline with age of the leaves, shade, and latitude, and certain cultivars have more caffeine variation. The preparation of the leaves for the tea can also impact the amount of caffeine present.
Yaupon has a very rich history with Native American tribes. It was brewed into a tea-like beverage known as Black Drink which that link provides far more information (and sources). The link is simply my in-depth post on Google+ from the week before about the history of it. The comments also mention preparation, taste, antioxidant properties, and how it isn't actually a drink that causes vomiting.
Sorry for lack of posts last week. I went on vacation, but I'm back now. Thursday will be another original post with some photography I'm a bit proud of from earlier this month.