Restoring the Ilex cassine (Walter) name to the plant that was “Cassine, Asi Lupubski, Cassena, Yaupon” and held sacred to the Indigenous tribes of the Southeastern United States. Part 1.

As we continue our blog series about Yaupon(Cassine) to part 4, we are finally going to begin a discussion it comes to why we call it Ilex vomitoria ([Solander] Aiton) versus Ilex cassine (Walter) from a scientific binomial nomenclature point of view. We at Hortfire are of the belief that the correct name should be Ilex cassine (Walter).


It really wasn’t until the mid-point of the 20th century that in the United States the universal acceptance of the scientific name became Ilex vomitoria ([Solander] Aiton). Before then, Ilex cassine (Walter) was the proper term for Cassine/Yaupon holly within the United States. Dr Chapman’s, “Flora of the Southern United States,” is a very good example of not only was Yaupon Ilex cassine, but Dahoon Holly was Ilex dahoon. Dr Chapman was a medical doctor like many other “botanists, natural history enthusiast, and men of higher education” before him. Below is a copy from his 2nd edition of Flora published in 1883.


If you have read the book,”Black Drink, A Native American Tea,” by Charles Hudson, you will notice that the chapter on nomenclature and botany are written by Dr Shiu Ying Hu. From pages 20 to 27, Dr Hu states her cases and point of view of why the proper scientific name is Ilex vomitoria ([Solander] Aiton) and not Ilex cassine (Walter). At least three times within seven pages, she states the correct name is Ilex vomitoria ([Solander] Aiton). If you look back through the literature cited, you will notice a paper by Dr. Richard E. Schultes titled, “The correct name of Yaupon,” published in 1950 through the Botanical Museum leaflets of Harvard University. What the reader is unaware of, is that Dr Hu graduated with a p.h.D in Botany from Harvard in 1949, worked at the herbarium and had a great career at Harvard. If you continue reading rest of the chapter she wrote within,”Black Drink,” you start learning about the “new” species of Ilex vomitoria ([Solander] Aiton) from Mexico. Well, it doesn’t take long for someone to read, comprehend, and acknowledge that Dr Hu has a vested interest as she was the person to augment Dr Sharp’s (University of Tennessee) work and got a species designated of Ilex chiapanensis. Dr Sharp initially found the Chiapas Yaupon(Cassine) holly.

Now back to Dr Schultes’s paper, this paper is really the baseline of Dr Hu’s writing and reiteration that Ilex vomitoria described by Dr. Solander and published by William Aiton in Hortus Kewensis of 1789 is the correct name. While both the paper by Dr. Schultes and the chapter by Dr Hu, echo the same reasoning of Linnaeus’s Ilex cassine naming is wrong, unfortunately, they also leave the door as into why Ilex cassine by Thomas Walter is actually correct. How could this be you might ask and why don’t they mention it? Simple, it has to do with protecting their individual legacy of work and the legacy of work of their peers, colleagues, and predecessors.

I mention predecessors, because Professor Charles S Sargent, the first director of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard, is credited with changes that are tied to the current accepted name Ilex cassine named holly, Dahoon and the former Mrytle leaf species, Ilex myrtifolia to create Ilex cassine var. cassine for Dahoon and Ilex cassine var. myrtifolia for Mrytle Leaf holly. So from a legacy point of view, it would be a conflict of interest for both Dr Schultes and Dr Hu to apply their reasoning logic equally in the instance of Linnaeus and Walter for the native southeastern plant that was called Cassine or Yaupon by the indigenous tribes, if they did, then it is possible Professor Sargent’s work could change or argue that it is null and void.

So, I am going to take a simplified but straight forward approach to this topic. I am going to provide empirical evidence and value that evidence over works of legacy. I am going to present several new pieces of works, that have been either largely ignored or unnoticed. I am going to also use two individuals who may not of had any interaction what so ever directly, yet do reinforce one particular individual’s right to credit not only for the holly called Cassine(Yaupon), but also Dahoon and Mrytle-Leaf. From a science point of view we would not only be changing the name of one species, but two, if not three.

While this is not an article for a major publication, this is a literal work to allow other individuals of various backgrounds to walk away with a good understanding of the subject and to promote future discussion. We are going to follow a chronological order of evidence, similar to our last post. So just like the last post, we have to start in the beginning.

The earliest European recording of the Cassine drink comes from Nunez Cabeca de Vaca published in 1542.


Now, we going to go back to one of the first references of Cassine being catalogued and later referenced from. It is in one of the works of Casper (Gaspard) Bauhin in the early 1600’s. Bauhin lived in the early period of classification and order of plants and animals. He is considered one of the forerunners to Carl Linnaeus and taxonomic binomial nomenclature.


Dr Schultes mentions him in his paper. Bauhin mentions Florida as a location for the herb, St Augustine was established in 1565 by Spanish settlers. In our previous post, we noted John Locke instructing a ship captain in 1671 to locate and acquire “Cassini.” Other references from the previous post describe various other experiences of Cassine(Yaupon) by Spanish and French explorers since De Vaca in the southeastern United States.

The next reference point is a major one, it typically is referred to in one fashion or another by William Aiton, Carl Linnaeus, Philip Miller, and Mark Catesby. Leonard Plukenett published Almagesti Botanici Mantissa in 1700. What makes this evidence important, is that not only does it give a description of the plant but the first formal name and location of the plant within English control of the New World. Plukenett had published an almanac in 1961 mentioning Cassine according to Dr Schultes.


Cassine vera Floridanorum is the name which will get referenced over and over. It is worth noting the other plant, Cassine vera perquam, because it will be noted later as being not a holly species and part of the new evidence presented shows where an individual can clearly make out the difference. Neither Dr Shultes or Dr Hu speak of this being the origin point of the perquam confusion associated within the nomenclature naming.

Now we are going to move forward about 10 years. Here we will recall the account of John Lawson in his book A New Voyage to Carolina.


What is important about Lawson’s notes, is that here we can see where confusion can begin to between the name of Cassine and Yaupon. This is one of the first pieces of evidence that shows Cassine and Yaupon refer to the same plant. One interesting point about this entry is the note about the “berries.” We know that Yaupon(Cassine) turns red and holds a red color throughout the winter. We also know that there are two other native hollies that have black color drupes, ink berry and large gall berry. Does Lawson confuse the Cassine with Inkberry or Large Gallberry? Or does he confuse it with another plant that is native evergreen and produce a black drupe (remember that reference by Plukenett I told you to remember, could this be that)? Lawson’s mentioning of the Spanish usage coupled with over 140 years of occupation in Florida, may have been an avenue to export plants or seeds to Europe for use or trade before anyone else.

Lawson makes another entry with the “New Voyage” about Yaupon.


This entry shows three more interesting points. The first one is the difference in how the drink is used. He mentions the purging use and the daily morning usage (think about how people drink coffee or tea every morning). The next interesting point is the “Incurable man who went to sleep and dreamed it,” story of how the properties of the tree came to usage. This is one of several folklore legends told to Europeans. The third interesting point is the acknowledgement of the natives and their usage of plants to cure what ails them. He is of the belief that they are superior in their medical practice in this aspect. From our last post, you might recall the letter from John Pechey to Robert Boyles and his work to cure smallpox with a tincture made of the Carolina herb “Cassiny.” As a side note, this is the earliest record of the Y-a-u-p-o-n spelling used that I have found and also the earliest 18th Century of english origin writing that describes with incredible accuracy of the plant and its’ usage. Unfortunately moving forward, we enter as I call it the “Cassine Confusion Era 1710-Present,” which we still live in today.

Dr Porcher and Dr Rayner noted in “Wildflowers of South Carolina,” that rise of Mark Catesby within English natural history. In 1712 Catesby visited his sister in Virginia, stay for seven years, and began to write and send specimens back to England. Upon his returning to England, his works was noticed. He return to the New World in 1722 by settling in Charlestowne (Charleston,SC) and spent four years traveling around what is modern day South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida until 1726. After returning to England with seeds and specimens, he published his first volume Natural History of the Carolina, Florida, and Bahamas in 1731 and his second volume in 1743. (Porcher, Richard and Rayner, Douglas. “A guide to the wildflowers of South Carolina.” Columbia, 2001. pg 24)

In volume 1 of Catesby’s “Natural History,” we see one of the two hollies were the dispute of the scientific name of Ilex cassine, it is the Dahoon holly. Catesby correctly identifies this holly. Unfortunately, I could find an origin point of his latin name.



There is three interesting points within Catesby text description of Dahoon to note. The first one is usage and/or acknowledge that it is a holly specifically. The second note to point out is the description comparison of growth to the “common kind.” This is important, because during this time, what we know as today as American holly and English holly were still considered to be the same plant on two different continents. Keep this in mind as we move forward. The third note to point out is the location Catesby mentions, Col Bull’s Plantation on the Ashley river. This point hits very close to home, I am speaking about a three quarters of mile straight linear measurement from where I typing this from. Col. Bull’s Plantation is more commonly called Ashley Hall plantation. It was a 400 acre plantation. The distance of Ashley Hall to another landmark in South Carolina will be brought up later. While this is great work by Catesby with the print and text description, it is unfortunate that his name description is poor as it simply says,”Dentated leaves, Red Fruit.” This weak name description will hurt Linneaus later and leaves the door open for many different hollies to be Aquifolium carolinense. I find this part of the overall confusion not referenced by Dr Hu and Dr Schultes.

The next piece of evidence we have to share is a pretty important one. It is the catalogue entry of Carl Linnaeus from his publication of George Cliffords garden in 1737. Dr Hu mentions this period and points to it as a part of discrediting Linnaeus. Now, what is not clear is if Linnaeus herbarium started with specimens from Clifford’s Holland garden. I do agree with Dr Hu about Linnaeus being unsure due to the multiple entries under Cassine.


We see Cassine vera perquam, which was the “other species”I told you to remember from Plukenett, but there is another species to keep an eye one in addition, Phillyrea capenfis. You will see it make a return. The last line refers to “Growing at the Cape of Good Hope, not in Carolina,” Linnaeus makes the distinction that this isn’t the Cassine of the Carolinas, this will prove costly later with his most important publication ever printed.

In 1743 Catesby releases his second volume of “Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahamas.” It is this volume that we see Cassine being introduced by him. Catesby uses Plukenett’s name with a minor change to it.


Catesby’s colored plate leaves little doubt to the correct plant being identified as Cassine. So people have speculated that the addition of the snake “suggests” a medical association. I find this to be false as many of the plates with plants with this volume of work has snakes with them. Unlike Vol 1 and the Dahoon Holly, Catesby does not make any reference to the animal within the plate and usage of the plant. I believe Catesby couples the snakes and plates more for a visual effect either to complement or to contrast colors and to save space on presenting as much information per page.


Catesby description of Cassine gives several good points of information about the plant and its’ associated uses among the natives, from the annual Spring cleansing ceremony practice and the usage of the drink by only men, similar to De Vaca’s story approximately 200 years before hand to the trade among tribes that live within the region of growth trading to mountain tribes, reinforcing an account by John Lawson only a few decades earlier. He even describes how it is used to restore loss of appetite, strength the stomach, and gives agility and courage in war. This text is also important, because he clearly talks about South Seas Tea (yerba mate) and how similar trade is established in South America from Paraguay (region of growth) to Buenos Aires (region exported to). Unfortunately, he mentions a comparison of Cassine to South Seas Tea and says that they are similar if not the same plant. He justifies the understanding of them being the same as he fore mentions to this claim Florida and Paraguay on on the same parallel but two different hemispheres. Dr. Schultes mention that Pluknett writes in his pre-Mantissa almanac publication, South Seas Tea. Be it Plukenett or Catesby, both are wrong about Cassine being South Seas Tea, we know today that is a different species of Ilex, still this is also adds another layer of confusion to the long term. Catesby does describe in South Carolina the plant is called Cassena, but in Virginia and North Carolina it is referred to as Yapon and how those colonist call it this tend to drink it just as much as the natives. It is easy to assume here, that the colonists are drinking it in a way of a normal person drinks tea or coffee, not in the purging way.

As we move forward 6 years to 1753, we reach an extremely important point in history. We come to Carl Linnaeus’s Species Plantarum. This text is the origin point of binomial nomenclature of plants and later editions expand across many different life forms. What is important about binomial nomenclature is there are two major principals and two minor principals. The first major principle is that the naming is done in Latin. Why latin, simple because it is a dead language, it will not change in the future, think of it as the ultimate constant communication language, no one speaks it but it can be written and interpreted. The second major principle is that the naming of the Genus and Species, hence the “binomial, two names.” The two minor principals consist,” what makes it unique or different from a relative species,” and “who is the first person to properly identify and describe it with evidence and publication of evidence.” That is scientific naming in a nutshell and those 4 principles have not and will not change. What does happen though, is that name can change when future evidence is present and accepted as to be true. Genetic testing and mapping is changing many of the names of plants we have had in the past, but it still is following those 4 principles.

Both Dr Schultes and Dr Hu point to this being the troubling point and origin of confusion with Linnaeus and the usage of the Ilex cassine description by those referencing him.


This entry with Species Plantarum is one of two pieces of evidence to devoid Linneaus of the Ilex cassine designation. Dr Hu’s point out that Linnaeus was merging two different species under the Cassine designation. Linnaeus’s B variety is Cassine(Yaupon), while the Aquifolium carolinense referenced by Catesby Vol 1 is Dahoon, as we have previously covered above. We have also previously covered the uncertainty of Cassine within Hortus Cliffortianus by Linnaeus. All of this is grounds to reject Linnaeus’s designation of Ilex cassine. The next point echoed by Dr Hu and Dr Schultes is the herbarium species by Linnaeus. Dr Hu claims that the two specimens, one was marked Ilex cassine and the other just Ilex. What was labeled ilex cassine according to her was actually American Holly and the “Ilex” was the cassine. Now, Dr Schultes makes a reference to photographic evidence that revealed that neither specimen was in fact Ilex, but Viburnums. While there is a conflict of statements by two people who insist that Ilex vomitoria ([Solander] Aiton) is the correct name, I will accept in fairness that their combined statements of Linnaeus’s specimens are wrong. Now with that being said, I the failure of Linnaeus to properly document in its’ entirety the description of what Cassine is, but in the same token I cannot ignore that did so properly under the B variety designation. So I agree to certain extent that Linnaeus should not get the designation of Ilex cassine (Linn), but I completely disagree that the designation becomes null and void and non reusable because of his error. Part of my reasoning has to do with correspondence between Linnaeus, John Ellis, and Alexander Garden that occur after the printing (which we will examine in another blog) and that if it is considered rejected, it doesn’t mean it could not be accepted later if properly described, specimen archived, and published.

Remember Spontaneous Generation was accepted “knowledge” for 2,000 years before it was proven wrong in 1859. Otherwise we would still think that living things “just happen” out of non-living things. Linnaeus never came to North America and verified specimens, and he did have some pretty old specimens published in his works, like the mythical Phoenix. He was also taking in a lot of information from as many sources possible, which was good but due to a lack of researching standard and protocols, it could compound problems further.  His B variety gives ground to right direction and plant identified, so it is not impossible for others referencing him later not to get it right if they the knew about his mistake(s) during then.

Dr Hu references a name of Cassine peraqua L. in the year 1753, what is not clear to me, does she mean Linnaeus (as in an updated verison of Species Plantarum of that year) or is she referring to the 1954 publication by Philip Miller, “Gardeners Dictionary.” I noticed it within her works cited. The excerpt below is from the 8th edition published in 1768. I am posting it here because the original work was done in 1954 and I have very little reason to believe the text changed from the 1st to 8th edition. Dr Schultes references the 1768 publication and mentions that in the 9th edition (1797) edited by Thomas Martyn he adds a note under Cassine #2, Cassine paraqua of Miller is Ilex vomitoria, Cassine peraqua of the Mantiss (by Linnaeus) is Viburnum laevigetum.  Here is the except from the 8th edition of Miller’s Gardeners Dictionary.


Miller’s entry is interesting to say the least, very informative. There are a handful of points to reference. First he references Linnaeus’s Genera Plantarum, I suspect it could be any of the editions 1st (1737)-5th(1754). We referenced Hortus Cliffortanius for 1737, because it is known that publication was based on material within the garden of George Clifford. The next important thing about Miller’s entry is the description of how the GENUS belongs to the Fifth Class, Pentadria Trigynia, of have 5 stamens and 3 stigmas within the flower. The next point to reference is the 3 sorts of Cassine, the first and third types have opposite leaves (Cassine corymbesa 1st and Cassine oppositifolia 3rd). That is pretty big bit of information, as we all know that holly’s have alternate leaves. The second type does have alternate leaves (Cassine paraqua). Moving forward we know that any references to the 1st or 3rd type does not mean it is a Cassine holly. Our note above from the 9th edition does make reference to the first type being Viburnum laevigatum, since it is reference as Linneaus’s Cassine peraqua. We can also see within Miller’s text as it relates to Cassine paraqua, 2nd type, that he is almost repeating verbatim from Catesby’s description from Natural History Vol 2 while crediting Plukenett with the name. What we find two novel pieces of information, outside of the information Miller denouncing Dahoon being the same as Cassine according to Linnaeus, the details about Yerba mate from Paraguay, is that Miller even admits not knowing the difference between the Cassine tea and Chinese Thea  plant produces it and that if the tea is drank at higher concentrations does it produce an emetic effect.

Dr Hu also makes a reference in 1762 to the name Prinos glaber L. Here again, we don’t have a specific reference to who or where this came from, but what I can tell you is that you will see later where Prinos glaber is later referenced to Inkberry holly. Remember Lawson’s remark about the berries turning brown? Even Dr Hu writes in the “Species of Ilex used for tea” section citing Asa Gray that Inkberry is used. Dr Schultes does reference the 2nd edition of Species Plantarum by Linnaeus being published in 1762 and the name Cassine peraqua being used for Cassine(Yaupon). The information we want to present from 1762 comes from a different source. It is the first source I have come across with no documentation at all, by Dr Hu or Dr Schultes, it is “Flora Virginica Exhibens Plantas,” by John Clayton and J Gronovio.


While this entry is nothing more than an copied verison of Linneaus’s record from Hortus Cliffortanius, there is one notable exception. The last line comment has been changed to a description constructed by Dr. Clayton. Translated it reads,

Leaves evergreen shrub coast, phillyreae similar, but smaller, with small red berries tripyrenis.

Clayton lived in Virginia and would send specimens and notes back to Gronovio in Europe. Clayton’s name Cassine and description accurately fit what has been referred to as Cassine(Yaupon) by the indigenous tribes of the Southeast. His description is different than works published before him. If Dr Hu or Dr Schultes would of reviewed this, I suspect they would’ve filed it under,”rejected” because of the attachment of Linnaeus.

As we move forward to 1767 we are presented with our next piece of evidence that was either missed or simply not included with Dr Hu or Dr Schultes works. While the literature seems to be more along the lines as a promotional literature piece, we find an interesting aspect from it. This piece of evidence is titled,”Hortus Europa-Americanus,” by Mark Catesby.


We found this piece to be of interest because despite the numerous years in between the publication of the two volume of “Natural History” Catesby does nothing to the names for Dahoon and Yapon. If anything, it reaffirms which one is which and how they are separate. It reaffirms that the terms Cassine and Yapon(Yaupon) are specific to one plant and that plant is not Dahoon. This publication showcases North American natives suitable for English gardens. In the preface he makes a reference to a particular nurseryman for which these “curiosities” can be acquired from.

Our next piece of evidence is a bit different. While it is not an entry from a literal work, it is a published document that reinforces the name “Cassena,” identifies it with it being of maritime setting, and is related to shipping trade. During this time period, Cassena or Cassine(Yaupon) was utilized by mariners conducting trade between the colonies and West Indies. The tea made by mariners was used to fight scurvy and low vigor from extended periods as sea. In 1775 Henry Mouzon published a map of the Carolina’s and Georgia. His details to delineate the various establish plantations and other natural resources to be used is excellent. Below is small portion of the map.


Mouzon’s map is showing an area that makes up Northern Charleston county to the Santee river delta. The area where the text reads “Cassena” is called Bulls Bay. This is where the first english settlers originally landed in Carolina. As another interesting side note not related to Cassine(Yaupon), the southward facing arrow references a minor counter current that can occur as a result of the counter clockwise rotation of what is called the Charleston Gyre, which is created by the deflection of the Gulf Stream at what is called the “Charleston Bump.”

Now from 1775 until 1787, we did not reference anything, Dr Hu referenced Jean Baptiste Antoine Pierre Monnet Chevalier, Chevalier de Lamarack from 1782. According to Dr Hu, Lamarack misinterpreted Miller’s description of the Cassine cormboysa as Cassine de la Caroline (Cassine of Carolina). While we did not validate her claim, we can acknowledge Dr Hu’s point of how this later affected Theodor Loesener 1901 name for Cassine.

We all know that it is during this time period that the American Revolution happened and ended in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris. What we will refresh everyone’s memories on the Revolution and its’ association, #1 Taxation without representation, colonist wanted seats in Parliament because of the taxes being paid, saw it as a violation of British constitutional law, particularly on tea #2 Parliament members owning and controlling the East India Trading Company (they control all the tea coming in from China), #3 King George III was married to a German princess of Saxa-Gotha, Queen Charlotte, #4 England hired german Hessians to fight in the war, and #5 King George III went mad after losing the colonies and established Kew gardens, #6 William Aiton was the King’s gardener, member of the Royal Society, and the first director of Kew gardens. We will go into some more details about certain parts of this in another blog post, but for now, these are basic things to remember as it relates to what we are talking about.

After the war ended in 1783, a german hessian surgeon by the name of Johann D. Schoepf wanted to take a Mark Catesby like travels from Pennsylvannia to Virginia, travel southward to North Carolina by ship and then travel to Charleston, South Carolina by land, to get back on a ship and travel to St Augustine and then go to the Bahamas. Dr Schoepf served with his german unit in the North, the war was over and he wanted to explore the natural history and culture. He published two books after he returned to Europe. One of his books is one of the earliest American medical works, since when it was compiled and distributed back to the United States. This book was called, “Materia medica Americana potissimum regni vegetabilis,” and was printed in 1787. Below is his entry about Cassine.


Dr Schoepf essentially copies Linnaeus’s Species Plantarum entry, but also reference a Materia Medica book (for which I haven’t found) and Miller’s Dictionary. He includes an entry by a Clayton, which talks about the plant being deciduous and then repeats the Plukenett reference of Cassine vera floridanorum. The two interesting parts of Dr Schoepf’s entry is that he makes a description of medical usages and under the Plukenett reference he adds a note about “Varieties?” It appears that Dr Schoepf understands that with the various descriptions, he can see that they might actually reference different varieties of plants.

Dr Schoepf published another book in 1788. This book was about his travels in “The Confederation.” When I first saw the titled I imagined he was talking about a confederation of native tribes and it was going to be about Muskhogean people. When I started reading it, it took me a second to realize that he was actually referring to the “Confederation of former colonies,” remember the “Articles of Confederation” came be the US Constitution. This book is interesting for many reasons as he describes a post revolution America of its people, their culture, and particularly the flora and natural history. You also have to remember that after the Revolution, a lot of German Hessian soldiers stayed because they saw opportunity and integrated. Even Scheopf’s notes that boat loads of Germans entering the country marrying non-Germans and letting English become their dominant language. We are going to review his experiences with Cassine(Yaupon).


What is important about Dr Schoepf’s text is that he talks about Ilex cassine tea being called Japan. He mentions that it is liked for breakfest over common Bohea, (Thea Bohea was one of the first scientific names for Camellia sinensis, they thought that Green tea came from one plant and Black tea came from another). He also mentions that a pound of Japan fetches a half of a guinea or did in England until the importation was prohibited. John Locke and Miller spoke of the similarities of the tea compared the British East India Company control Chinese tea, but Dr. Schoepf reveals that it was liked a lot more and competed with it. This text shows the first documentation of economic warfare in trade.

The other aspects of Dr. Schoepf’s text that are worth noting consist of, him describing the Ilex cassine versus the Cassine peraqua (remember the previous references to this species). You also note that he talks about the Ilex aquifolium (common holly), Dahoon, and Cassine, as separate species. At the ending of the American revolution, it would appear that Ilex aquifolium of North America and Europe was still being considered the same plant. His text while it may hold the “technical errors” of Linnaeus as mentioned by Dr Hu and Dr Schultes, it is apparent that he knows the difference. Be it Catesby, John Clayton, or Dr. Schultes, they all not have only written about Cassine but they actually observed it in its’ native wild setting. They have had full sensory experience and knowledge of it.

Now we move on to the two most pivotal years of the naming of Cassine(Yaupon), 1788-1789. Here we will present the two men’s cases of the most accepted scientific names. One man lives a beautiful resourceful life in the Carolina’s and becomes an American Patriot and the other man is King George 3rd’s gardner. Both Dr Hu and Schultes acknowledge the work of Thomas Walter and praise him for it, yet they reject the acceptance of him naming it Ilex cassine on the grounds of Linnaeus’s use of the word before. Now let’s not forget they also rejected Linnaeus’s name because of faulty herbarium specimens, poor identification.

Some important thing to know about Thomas Walter is that he wrote, “Flora Caroliniana,” it was published in England with the help of John Fraser. He made all of his observations within a 50 miles radius of his house. He wrote in the preface that he was going to follow the principles outlined in Species Plantarum not the literal words as he felt he could correct Linnaeus errors. Here is his entry on Ilex.


As you can see, Thomas does not reference anyone. He does still refer to what we call American Holly as Ilex aquifolium, he even mentions under number two of a yellow fruit type. He separates out the other species, but gives them an accurate description, that we don’t see published before. He italicized myrtifolia, unlike Dr Hu’s claim he discovered two new species Dahoon and Myrtifolia, I believe he discovered myrtifolia and is updating Catesby’s name for Dahoon, which was the first species in Linnaeus’s Species Plantarum under the Ilex cassine name. This merging of two species was one of the grounds for rejecting Linnaeus’s name.

Walter wasn’t even born when Catesby left SC and Catesby died when Walter is nine years old. Walter does honor Catesby with two of his discoveries Pine Lily Lilium catesbaei and Gentiana Gentiana catesbaei. To draw further on a Catesby to Walter association and reinforce my comment of Walter simply updating Catesby’s name, I want to remind you of Catesby’s text description of Dahoon Holly of where he noted seeing it, Col Bull’s Plantation. Below is a map of Walter’s gravesite in upper Berkeley county.


According to Rembert, 88 species named by Walter are still true today as they were true when he wrote “Flora Carolina.” Thomas Walter’s herbarium collection is housed in the British Natural History Museum in England and was received in 1788.

Both Dr Schultes and David Rembert noted that Asa Gray, the first botany professor of Harvard, visited Thomas Walter’s collection and photographed it. Asa Gray used Ilex cassine for Yaupon holly out of Walter’s collection. Mr. Rembert noted other Harvard botany professors who visited his collection, Professor Charles Sargent, Liberty Hyde Bailey, and Ames Oakes. Ironically, the botanical museum publication of Dr Schultes article is dedicated to Ames Oakes and Dr Schultes even starts the article off by how it came about with a discussion with Dr Ames Oakes on the discussion of the yaupon nomenclature.

Both Dr Schultes and Dr Hu reject Walter for Ilex cassine name credit because it was a homonym to Linnaeus, yet we know now that Walter wanted to correct Linnaeus’s errors, neither Dr Schultes or Dr Hu mentioned that about Walter. So technically, Walter under those four guiding principles was the first person to identify, publish, and archive Cassine(Yaupon) as Ilex cassine correctly. If compared to today’s acceptance of Ilex vomitoria ([Solander] Aiton) for Yaupon, then Ilex cassine ([Linnaeus] Walter) is truly the correct name. Despite this understanding we have to move forward and continue with several other examples in fairness.

Now we move forward one year 1789 to William Aiton, the first director of Kew gardens. Kew was a project started under the direction of King George III and his wife Queen Charlotte. Aiton may have published the name Ilex vomitoria in Hortus Kewensis in 1789, yet it was Dr Solander of the British Natural History Museum that described the plant for Aiton. Dr Solander was originally a student of Linnaeus. We are going to cover  the Solander, John Ellis, Alexander Garden and Linneaus association in the next blog along with some other “interesting professional” connections as well. For right now, we are going to stick with Aiton and Hortus Kewensis.


As you can see there are some issues with Aiton’s credit of the name Ilex vomitoria and Ilex cassine, not to mention Ilex latifolia as well. We are going to dissect the cassine part first and then the vomitoria part.

Under Ilex cassine, Aiton uses Linneaus’s Species Plantarum reference. Now Dr Hu and Dr Schultes say that Linneaus’s error by merging the species under Ilex cassine. Linneaus also referenced Hortus Cliffortanius within that description, which according to Dr Hu and Dr Schultes photographic evidence of his herbarium revealed that to be false. Since that is the case, why didn’t Aiton reference directly Catesby Vol 1 or Catesby Hortus Europa Americanus? While the Catesby reference is listed under as the first type in Linneaus’s Species Plantarum, the “rejection grounds” of previous examples should still stand as equally. If Aiton had simply referenced Catesby Vol 1 or Hortus Europa, it would be a different story. One could say that Aiton didn’t have access to Catesby Vol 1, which is like saying he didn’t properly research the texts. It would be highly unlikely this was the case and even more unlikely that he couldn’t of had a copy of Hortus Europa Americanus. If you look through the notes, he clearly had some information about Catesby pre-1760s.

Now Aiton referenced two other types under the “Dahoon, Ilex cassine.” He placed Ilex latifolia, Broad Leaf Dahoon as type a. Ilex latifolia is native to Japan and China, not the Carolinas, Georgia, or Florida, it is commonly called Luster-leaf holly. If we were to apply the logic that Dr Hu and Dr Schultes applied to Linneaus’s Species Plantarum of merging, here is grounds again to reject Aiton.

Now on to the “Narrow leaf Dahoon,” we believed he correctly identified this plant and noted that Catesby introduced it in 1726, but we see unfortunately his publication reference is wrong. He cited Miller’s dictionary type number 3. If you can recall, Miller’s type 3 was Cassine oppositifolia, which we know that Hollies are not of an opposite leaf arrangement. If we were to apply the rejection logic here, technically this entry is wrong as well. We also know that Narrow leaf Dahoon does not flower in August.

We have shown that all of William Aiton’s entries about Ilex cassine can be rejected if we are applying the same logic that Dr Hu and Dr Schultes have applied to others. While we do not void the name Ilex cassine, we find it vacant from Aiton. It would appear that we could repeat the words of Dr Hu when she refered to Linneaus in Hortus Cliffortanius,”he had a poor understanding of the species.”

Now we move onto Aiton’s entry about Ilex vomitoria. His description and references are accurate. What is questionable is where he claims for it to be cultivated, West Florida and why didn’t he refer to it as Yaupon instead of South Seas Tea and Evergreen Cassine? Now Hortus Kewensis was published in 1789, six years after the American revolution, as part of the peace treaty of Paris, Britain had to cede back East and West Florida to Spain, which it was acquired from Spain and France after the French and Indian War (Seven Years War 1754-1763). The question here becomes why would Aiton use West Florida as the place of origin when his references talk about the Carolinas and Virginia. Was it because Plukenett used floridanum in his original name? Why reference a former British territorial holding? Why not refer to his Ilex vomitoria as yaupon or yapon, Catesby makes the reference? Catesby makes the parallel of the Southeastern and Paraguay natives trade of South Seas tea, but he keeps them separate. Plukenett does not refer to any common names under floridarium. Is this foreshadowing of an underlying attitude post-American revolution?

We acknowledge Aiton’s entry of vomitoria to be factual except for its’ origin, but it was published after Thomas Walter, Aiton did not have a good understanding of Dahoon holly and misused the name Ilex cassine for it. Unlike Catesby, Clayton, Schoepf, and Walter, Aiton’s publication was based around specimens that were cultivated in England not in their native settings or observation. We also acknowledge that Aiton’s position, being a member of the Royal Society, presented an opportunity to influence acceptance of his work and future scholars after him.

Before we move on, we do want to acknowledge that Aiton did something right and does deserve the credit for (I am also assuming Dr Solander should get some credit as well). Below is the excerpt from the pages before his cassine and vomitoria entry of Hortus Kewensis.


Aiton did separate “Common Holly” Ilex aquifolium (English Holly) from what he called “Carolina Holly” Ilex opaca (American Holly) as seen above. Another note on this page is his Ilex prinoides for Deciduous holly versus Walter’s Ilex decidua, it will come up again shortly.

As we continue moving forward in time, we come to two name references made by Dr. Hu both in 1791, Ilex florida by Lamarck and Cassine yapon by Bartram. We did not reference either of these because we did not see them as being relative to the discussion at large. Lamarck updated name appears to be just that, an updated name. Bartram’s name is clearly an attempt to utilize the two indigenous names, which while is a novel approach, it isn’t accepted as we can see that Ilex has become the Genus for all Holly species. At some point in the future outside of this blog series, we will revisit Bartram’s writings as he did spend time with indigenous tribes.

The next person we will look at and their input to the naming of Yaupon(Cassine) is Andre Michaux. David Rembert noted in his “Thomas Walter Carolina Botanist,” paper that there appears that Thomas Walter and Michaux never met, but they did have a common friend, John Fraser. John Fraser did go hiking the backcountry with Michaux for some time before returning to England. Michaux published Flora Boreali-Americana Vol II in 1803.


Dr Hu and Schultes reject Michaux’s name Ilex cassena because it is a synonym of Walter’s and Linnaeus’s Ilex cassine. As we noted before, Walter was simply correcting Linnaeus. Michaux does reference Walter and Catesby, but if one looks at his description of the plant, it is a new description. Michaux is trying to capitalize on the difference’s of Walter and Aiton. Michaux does accept the works of Walter and Aiton, but you can see he chooses which one he wants to use. For example above he uses Aiton for the Deciduous holly minor references Walter’s Ilex decidua, but on page 228 he uses Walter for Dahoon holly and minor references Linn and Aiton within the notes as using the name Ilex cassine.


Michaux see the conflict between Walter and Aiton and tries to fix it by a new description and change in the spelling, doing so in a respectful way to both Walter and Aiton. What both Dr Hu and Dr Schultes missed when they assumed it to be a synonym, is that the word “Cassena” comes from Catesby from within his text of “Natural History” Vol II. Because of this, it is not far fetched that Michaux could be the person who should get the credit for the name. We would accept this as much as Walter’s name, because like Walter, Michaux observed and recorded the Yaupon(Cassine) in its’ native habitat. Michaux was trying to mediate and get the information universally uniform.

We are going to move forward four years to our next reference by Gov John Drayton. In 1807 Gov Drayton published a manuscript for the Royal Society of Sciences of Gottingen. I bring up this evidence because it shows that there still is a quest for information by european intellectual groups particularly in natural history of the New World.  French and English doctrine of scientific information is still meet with skepticism, which is a good thing. Gov Drayton’s manuscript was titled,”The Carolinian Florist.”


Gov. Drayton was the Governor of the South Carolina and like Michuax, Walter, Schoepf, Clayton, and Catesby, his account is taken from visual observation.


We can clearly see that Gov Drayton’s manuscript clearly has some Thomas Walter influence.

As we move forward we come upon 1812 and Benjamin Smith Barton and his Flora Virginica. Dr Hu mentions Barton as well claiming he should be ignored because it appears that he just choose his name for Cassine(Yaupon).


Barton gave the name Ilex religiosa, he cited several other works, with his first two being Aiton and Walter. He gives a very interesting reasoning as noted above. He justifies the change based on the similar traditions of the Chinese and tea and the Americans native and their tea. He hypothesizes that both have a common origin tied back to China. He also recommends for individuals to see his article on Nicotiana religiosa (ceremonial tobacco) as well. Dr Hu mentions Barton and the connection as well but does not comment on it, simply says “whatever their (Barton and Michaux) motivations were they are simply adding to a long list of synonyms.” I find this response odd, especially from Dr Hu, who is was chinese national and wrote several books about Chinese food plants. If anything, I would of thought she would’ve added more or onto about Barton’s reasoning. I think Barton was trying to find a way to remediate Aiton and Walter’s conflict, yet he only provided a hypothesis (which we know today could not be true anyways) and a recombination of other descriptions to go along with his new species name.

After Barton, Dr Hu mentions Constantine Samuel Rafinesque works of 1830 name Hierophyllus cassine and 1838 name Ageria cassena. She tells a story by another professor about how Rafinesque is eccentric but also ahead of his time. What she fails to mention or understand about Rafinesque is that he is a member of the Linnean Society. This society carried on the working of taxonomic nomenclature and like many other scientists and doctors, there is always a desire to identify something new and have your name credited to it. I reviewed his work and in both instances, Rafinesque identified something new and novel, hence the change of the name. I don’t find it relative, because Rafinesque vanity was more about naming a new Genus more so that creating the right name.

After Rafinesque Dr Hu brings up Trelease and his change to Ilex peraqua in 1889. Here again, I agree that Trelease has no grounds with Dr Hu. While Trelease has the Genus correct, his species is in correct, we have previously noted that peraqua references of the past were actually viburnum species.

Now we come to Loesener’s “Monographia Aquifolium” of 1891. This work as a whole is one of the most comprehensive works on the holly family. Loesener is rejected because he simply tries to updates Lamarck’s Cassine caroliniana by giving it the Genus name Ilex, while keeping  the species caroliniana.  What Loesener doesn’t know is that Ilex caroliniana already existed and was published by Thomas Walter for Carolina Holly. Carolina Holly’s name Ilex ambigua was actually created credit to Andre Michaux.  Still we want to include this entry by Loesener because he does show up something important as it concerns Walter versus Aiton.



It shows in how over 100 years, the difference in who is referenced between Walter and Aiton. You can clearly see that Aiton has an advantage in numbers. While the first international rules of taxonomic nomenclature was adopted in 1864, we still cannot ignore the fact Walter was correctly published first as a correction to Linnaeus.

This blog is truly just the beginning to a bigger quest to restore the correct name to the right plant, it is not a quest of vanity, it is a quest of enlightenment and understanding for all. As we look towards the future, there will be more challenges ahead, but if this literature review is any indication of anything, it is that those challenges will be met and resolved.

In our next blog, we are going to touch on some the geo-social-economic aspects of Cassine(Yaupon) through the times. We have some more research to conduct as it regards to Harvard botany is concerned. Which by the way, I have been to the Asa Gray Herbarium.  So this is far from anything personal against Harvard, because ironically, about half of the digitized books I have collected to do this research has come from the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard.

We hope that you have enjoyed this blog post. We are going to take a short holiday break from writing, so until time, take care and don’t forget to,”Grow Forward!”

Happy Holidays 2016



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