This is in the same family as our native Ilex. We’ve not tested these in our 8b zone but suspect they could grow here in the ground with some extra care. Our mothers originally came from Argentina and have fruited and flowered in pots in our greenhouse. These are stem cuttings from those same plants. The traditional brew, herba mate, is made from the dried and roasted leaves. Highly caffeinated, its enjoyed very hot, and out of a decorated gourd.