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(Holly family)


Four hundred species in 2 genera are found in tropical and temperate regions.

Ilex paraguariensis A.St.-Hil. (syn. Ilex paraguensis D.Don) provides Paraguay tea or maté largely used in South America. The leaves contain caffeine which acts as a stimulant (Siegel 1976). Ilex aquifolium L., the holly, is commonly planted as an ornamental tree.

The prickly leaves of some species may cause mechanical injury.

Ilex L.

The lichen Parmelia caperata Ach. (fam. Parmeliaceae) growing on Ilex and Quercus L. (fam. Fagaceae) species was implicated in "woodcutter's eczema" (Ghillini 1954).

The berries are violently emetic and purgative when ingested (Lewis & Elvin-Lewis 1977, Flück & Jaspersen-Schib 1976, North 1967).


  • Flück H, Jaspersen-Schib R (1976) Medicinal Plants and their Uses. Medicinal plants, simply described and illustrated with notes on their constituents, actions and uses, their collection, cultivation and preparations. London: Foulsham [WorldCat]
  • Ghillini CA (1954) Un lichene causa di allergosi cutanea. Riv. Anat. Patol. Oncol. 8: 755.
  • Lewis WH, Elvin-Lewis MPF (1977) Medical Botany. Plants affecting man's health. New York: John Wiley [WorldCat]
  • North PM (1967) Poisonous Plants and Fungi in Colour. London: Blandford Press [WorldCat]
  • Siegel RK (1976) Herbal intoxication. Psychoactive effects from herbal cigarettes, tea, and capsules. JAMA 236(5): 473-476 [doi] [url] [pmid]

Richard J. Schmidt

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