En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - May 26, 2009

From: Gainesville, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Soapberry; monoecious or dioecious?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have a soapberry (Sapindus saponaria L., I believe) tree growing in my yard. I planted it 3 years ago hoping for soapberries, but have not seen any yet. It has flowered each spring, but has not set fruit. It just occurred to me to worry that I am missing something important to fruit production, such as both sexes. How can I tell? The flowers are just appearing now. What should I be looking for? Thank you.

ANSWER:

The soapberry Sapindus saponaria (wingleaf soapberry) is a dioecious species which means that there are individual trees with male (staminate) flowers and trees with female (pistillate) flowers (these are the ones that produce the berries). In your case, you may have a male tree which would explain the lack of berries, but you could have a female tree and there are no male trees nearby to furnish pollen, therefore, no berries. Take a look around your neighborhood to see if there are other soapberry trees in the vicinity and evaluate your chances of getting berries on your tree. Stamens (the parts that produce pollen) are fairly easy to spot in flowers. If your tree has stamens, you ae not going to get berries.

 This website discusses the biological characteristics of the Soapberry, and this previously answered question talks about this problem and gives some good references for further research.

For some help closer to home, contact the Paynes Prairie Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.

 

More Trees Questions

Drought resistant flowering plants for Spring, TX
January 25, 2012 - Hi Mr. Smarty Pants. I live in Spring Tx. and wanted to plant a garden in my front yard. I'm looking for flowering plants that are colorful, easy to manage, and drought resistant but so far can't fi...
view the full question and answer

Tree well for partially exposed roots from Lake Kiowa TX
May 05, 2012 - Medium oak tree along lake has partially exposed roots. Can we make a barrier (what kind?) and fill the roots behind it with topsoil, compost, etc.? Tree and roots are above the waterline. Lake occ...
view the full question and answer

Allelopathy in Sassafras albidum
January 11, 2012 - Sassafras albidum description says "Sassafras is allelopathic and can discourage the growth of certain other plants within its root zone." My question is: WHICH plants are susce...
view the full question and answer

Persimmon trunk grown around fence rail in Austin
November 08, 2012 - I have a Texas Persimmon in my backyard that is about 12-15 feet tall. It's been growing next to a chain-link fence and over the years, the top rail of the fence has cut into the bark on the trunk. A...
view the full question and answer

Can I grow Pawpaw in Central Texas?
May 25, 2010 - Do you have any tips for growing pawpaws (not papaya) in central texas? It appears to be at the edge or slightly beyond its range, but maybe if I'm nice to it.. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center