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Sunday - November 09, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Presence of male Yaupon to ensure berries on female yaupons
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Does a female Yaupon have to be planted next to a male to insure berries every year? I have had "experts" tell me absolutely yes and others tell me absolutely not.


That's because it is an extremely confusing trick played on gardeners by Nature and plant breeders. Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) is  dioecious, with male and female reproductive structures on separate plants. This means that only the female will have berries. However, what is usually sold in the nurseries are females, because they have berries. Members of the Ilex (hollies) genus share this trait. Because yaupon is so predominant, especially in this area, there are often wild males close enough to cause the females to fruit. No, they do not have to be right next to each other. The pollinators are bees, which can fly pretty far. We have seen figures from 40 feet to "up to a mile", and one male is usually enough for 10 females.

Commercial propagation of these dioecious plants is achieved vegetatively by planting cuttings from hollies, that is, cloning. The sex of the plant is determined in advance, as the vegetatively propagated plant always reproduces the parent type. That is why you do not often see a male shrub of a dioecious genus that produces berries sold in a nursery. 

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria



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