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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 1976, North 1967).


  • Flück H (1976) Medicinal Plants. London: Foulsham.
  • Ghillini CA (1954) Un lichene causa di allergosi cutanea. Riv. Anat. Patol. Oncol. 8: 755.
  • Lewis WH and Elvin-Lewis MPF (1977) Medical Botany. Plants affecting man's health. New York: John Wiley.
  • North PM (1967) Poisonous Plants and Fungi. London: Blandford Press.
  • Siegel RK (1976) Herbal intoxication. Psychoactive effects from herbal cigarettes, tea, and capsules. Journal of the American Medical Association 236(5): 473-476.

Richard J. Schmidt [Valid HTML 4.01!]

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