Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis)
Yerba Mate is an evergreen tree in the Holly family (Aquifoliaceae), native to the steamy subtropics of South America. Indigenous people of Paraguay first brewed the dried leaves into a delicious beverage that is high in caffeine, antioxidants, and micronutrients. It is a commonly used beverage in South America, and now it is gaining popularity worldwide as an alternative to coffee that boosts energy, burns fat, and reduces cholesterol.
Fragrant white flowers bloom on the tree during the late fall and early winter and develop into bright red ornamental berries in the spring. The thick, leathery leaves can be harvested and dried at any time of the year when the foliage has become full on the tree. It will grow to 50 feet high outdoors and can also be grown as a container plant indoors or outdoors.
Yerba Mate will grow in full sun to partial shade in rich, loamy, well-draining soil that is never allowed to dry out. It prefers warm, humid conditions and is hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11.