This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Prunus Caroliniana, A it, and Ilex Cassine, Walt, are two beautiful evergreens not generally known and rarely seen in arboretums, yet they deserve a place in every collection. The first is not even included in Gray's New Manual, but appears as Ce-rasus Caroliniana, Michx, in Wood's Class Book, though in his later work, The Botanist and Florist, it is given as above. The common name in both instances, Cherry Laurel, is not mentioned by Prof. Sargeant in Forest Trees of North America, 1880, where he gives it the local name of Mock Orange. It is a native of North Carolina, as its specific name implies, and is found thence south and westward. It does well transplanted in gar dens on the southern border of Virginia, and only suffers in most severe winters when its glossy leaves are covered with ice and sleet, although it does not attain the height usually assigned it. In foliage it considerably resembles the orange, though its leaves are not of as much substance, and the small twigs more gracefully drooping in habit. It bears the knife well and is often farther south trimmed into fanciful shapes.
The flowers and fruit are of no value, though the former are fragrant and attractive to bees; but for the beauty of its light airy branches of deep, shining green leaves it is unsurpassed and ought to be more generally cultivated than it now is. It is said to be poisonous, but of that there may be some doubt.
Ilex Cassena,Walt, (or as Gray gives it Cassine, L,) does not appear in Prof. Sargent's list. The southern portion of Virginia is its northern limit, and it extends southward along the coast line to Texas. The shrub, rather than tree, rarely exceeds fifteen to twenty feet in height, is dense in growth and foliage with deep-green, shining leaves about one inch in length, and has this advantage over box that its foliage is always green and beautiful and never rusty colored, as box often becomes. In addition the branches are in autumn covered with a profusion of scarlet berries clustered closely to the small twigs even, giving it when full of fruit a beautiful appearance. It ,was called by the natives "Yaupon," and from its leaves they made a black tea, which is still used to a large extent by the people living along the coast and has given that local name to the shrub. But those who can obtain the imported article do not hold it in high esteem. It is also called Cassena Tea. During a short trip made to the coast section of North Carolina last autumn, I saw no more beautiful sight than these deep shining bushes covered with scarlet berries.