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(mätā`, mătā`),

yerba maté

(yĕr`bä, –bə), or

Paraguay tea,

evergreen tree (Ilex paraguariensis) of the family Aquifoliaceae (hollyholly,
common name for members of the Aquifoliaceae, a family of widely distributed trees and shrubs, most numerous in Central and South America. The evergreen English holly (Ilex aquifolium
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 family). From ancient times Native Americans and now millions of Argentines and others in South America have made a tea (also called maté) from the young leaves and tender shoots of Ilex paraguensis, the source of the best brew, and from closely related species. Mate is the most popular beverage in S South America, and its culture is an important industry in Brazil and Paraguay. The tea is a stimulant and restorative, less astringent than genuine tea, and contains considerable caffeine. The word mate refers also to the cups in which the tea is infused, which are made from curiously shaped gourds or calabashes, with small openings cut in the top and sometimes decorated with silver mountings. The dried leaves are put in a container and covered with boiling water, and the tea is drunk through a bombilla, a tube provided at the lower end with a strainer of fine basketwork, metal, or perforated wood. Mate is classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Celastrales.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the dried ground leaves of the evergreen tree Ilex paraguariensis. The tree itself is also called maté. Maté contains up to 1.8 percent caffeine, 0.05 percent theobromine, 9-12 percent tannins, essential oil, vitamins A, B, and C, and citric acid. It is used to prepare a tonic beverage used in South America as tea, which is drunk from a small vessel made from the fruit of a gourd, which is also called maté.



(Ilex paraguariensis), also yerba, a plant of the family Aquifoliaceae. The maté is an evergreen tree measuring 6–16 m tall. The opposite, obovate, and smooth leaves have crenate edges; they are 7–10 cm long and 4–5 cm across. The small, unisexual flowers are usually four-parted and gathered into axillary umbellate inflorescences. The maté most commonly is dioecious, although occasionally monoecious specimens with bisexual flowers are encountered. The fruit is a drupe with four to eight seeds.

The maté grows wild in South America, between 12° and 33° S lat. It is found at elevations of 500 to 900 m above sea level. The plant formerly grew in thickets, most of which have been destroyed. It is cultivated for its leaves and young shoots, which are used to prepare a tonic, also called maté. The plant is cultivated mainly in Brazil and bordering regions of Argentina and Paraguay. Annual production is about 200,000 tons.


Siniagin, I. I. Tropicheskoe zemledelie. Moscow, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


To pair for breeding.
To copulate.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. the sexual partner of an animal
2. Nautical
a. short for first mate
b. any officer below the master on a commercial ship
c. a warrant officer's assistant on a ship
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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