Yaupon Holly – A Fantastic Texas Shrub and Tree

Yaupon Holly – A Fantastic Texas Shrub (and small tree)

Why do we love the Yaupon Holly? We love these plants because they are native, beautiful, versatile, and a coffee substitute (sort of). 🙂

Yaupon Hollies are Native to Central Texas

When choosing a plant, we highly recommend going native (stuff that grows around Central Texas naturally). Plants are finicky – you never really know what will work and what won’t – but going with native plants increases the chances of success. Yaupon Hollies thrive in the wild areas around Central Texas. They can succeed in shade (you will find them as an understory plant in the woods), but they grow even better in full sun.

Being native shows that they can survive and thrive in dry soil. So don’t overwater them! 

They are beautiful

They have beautiful small green leaves (bright green. In the spring, when they are growing the leaves are bright green. They have a unique grey bark, and during the fall and winter the female plants (yes – there are male and female plants) produce bright red berries. These are some of the few plants that produce winter color in the Central Texas area. 

They also attract birds (who like the berries and the structure for nests). They are a beautiful plant that attracts more beauty. Two-for-one. 

They are versatile

Be careful to choose the right type of Yaupon for your yard – they are versatile. 

  1. Standard Yaupon – Most basic and common form of the plant. It can turn into a large shrub or even a small tree. They grow to be 12 to 25 feet tall depending on the conditions and how they are trained. Females will produce bright red berries (this applies across all Yaupons). See the opening picture for an example. 
  2. Dwarf Yaupon –  These mature at about 4 feet (which is what you want for most foundation shrubs). They can be manicured into hedges, but more commonly, people accent their natural rounded shape. Dwarf Yaupon Variety
  3. Will Fleming or Scarlet’s Peak Yaupons – These grow narrow and tall – like a column. They are slightly different varieties. Will Fleming is more common in Nurseries around Central Texas. 
  4. Weeping Yaupon – These are standard yaupons (they get big) that have branches that naturally lay down. It is a dramatic look and these are often used as showcase plants in a landscape. I recommend you google pictures of these. 
  5. Yellow berries – There are a few variations that will produce yellow berries instead of red, but I haven’t heard great things about them. I thought I would mention it here if you have some crazy aversion to the color red 🙂 

We are addicted to caffeine

Have you ever woken up in the morning with that moment of panic…”Holy smokes…we are out of coffee!!! What am I going to do?!?” Problem solved…go chew on a Yaupon Holly. Kidding. Please don’t do that. But, Yaupon Hollies are the only plant native to the United States that naturally produces caffeine. Maybe we should add another product line and start selling Yaupon coffee (more accurately it would be tea, but I think “Yaupon Texas Coffee” would sell better than Yaupon Texas Tea).


 Because of the caffeine, they were highly prized among Native Americans. They became a large part of some rituals and trade and yaupon leaves have been found in many Native American archeological digs. 

Much of this information was gathered thanks to Mr. Neil Sperry the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the Central Texas Gardener

We gathered these great pictures from all over the place to include from our good friend (not really…but I wish) Robert O’Brien. His work is incredible. 

If you want to read more about our wonderful team at Top Choice, please visit this page. 

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