Ilex paraguariensis
Common name: 
Yerba Matá
Paraguay Tea
I-leks par-uh-gwar-ee-EN-sis
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Broadleaf evergreen tree/shrub, grows to 20-30(50)ft [6-9(15)m] high.  Bark is smooth, shiny, whitish.   Leaves simple, alternate, 7.5-11 cm long and 2.5-5.5 cm wide, obovate to obovate-oblong, obtuse apex, margin serrate (sometimes remotely), dull to glossy mid- to dark green above, paler below.   Flowers are small, 4-membered, green-white, in small clusters.  Fruit globose, 4-5.5 mm diameter, red.
  • Sun or partial shade
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 9 (subtropical)     Native range includes parts of Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina.
  • The leaves, popularly called "herb" (Spanish: yerba, Portuguese: erva) contains caffeine, theobromine and other compounds, and are harvested commercially.  An infusion called mate or chimarrão (Brazil) is prepared by steeping dry leaves (and twigs) of the maté plant in hot water, rather than in boiling water.
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, fruiting

    plant habit, fruiting

  • leaves and fruit clusters

    leaves and fruit clusters

  • leaves and fruit

    leaves and fruit

  • leaves (underside) and fruit

    leaves (underside) and fruit