Genus of the Month
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the
context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of
all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you might also want to visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes
, a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family. Also, you can see my contribution to the
Conservation New England web site, entitled
"The Introduction of Non-Native Plants into Massachusetts".
This month's genus:
Number of Species: around 400
The genus Ilex is perhaps best known for its ornamental species, with holly bushes a frequent site in the urban and suburban areas of the Northeastern United States. In case you were wondering why all the plants you see aren't adorned with typical "holly red" berries, it is because most holly species are dioecious, meaning that they produce male and female flowers on separate plants. Ilex species are also used for their wood, for the extraction of ilixanthins (yellow dye) and for the production of Yerba Maté, a tea made from I. paraguensis (Note: I have seen various spellings of the previous species bname, including "paraguayensis" and "paraguariensis", and I'm sticking with the one used in Heywood's Flowering Plants of the World).
Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Ilex species:
- You can see two beautiful photos each of I. anomala and I.
paraguensis, from the University of Hawaii Flowering Plant Family Access web pages.
- If you want to know more about growing and buying Yerba Maté, here's the place. Brought
to you by the Sputnik Drug Information Zone.
- The FloriData web site has information about I. vomitoria, also known as Yaupon
Holly (You'll never guess what its herbal use is!! :-). You can also see a close-up of the
foliage and fruit as well as growing tips from the Time Life Plant Encyclopedia.
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
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