Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Large, fast-growing shade tree for Val Verde County, Texas
April 03, 2016 - What is an overall good shade tree, very large & fast growing, to plant in Central South Texas, Val Verde County region? I am told that virtually nothing but Live Oaks or some other type of Oak will ...
view the full question and answer

Live oaks dropping brown leaves
August 02, 2014 - We have three live oaks and one of them has been dropping quite a few brown leaves over the past two weeks. I looked at pictures of trees with oak wilt and ours do not look like the pictures. I als...
view the full question and answer

Is Esperanza a deciduous or an evergreen plant?
March 08, 2009 - I've read that Esperanza/Tecoma Stans is an evergreen. I planted one last year that seemed very healthy, but it dropped its leaves in late fall and looks (at least) dormant now. Will it come back o...
view the full question and answer

Why will my Butternut trees not produce nuts in Tennessee?
May 06, 2009 - I have 2 butternut trees planted about 20 ft from each other. I see the long blossoms on each tree but I have not gotten any nuts from either tree. I do not know if I have a male and female or if th...
view the full question and answer

Suitability of Monterrey oaks for small space in San Antonio
April 23, 2009 - I am purchasing a home and the existing owners have planted three Monterrey oaks in the back. It is a small yard and the trees are no more than 15 feet from the house.The trees back up to a fence that...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.