En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Soapberry; monoecious or dioecious?

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

Tree transplants having problems in Manchaca TX
April 03, 2010 - I have recently transplanted a Mexican Buckeye, Chinquapin oak, and Sandpaper tree that I have been raising inside since they were seedlings. They have now developed a browning of the tips of their l...
view the full question and answer

Will catalpa roots damage a nearby swimming pool?
July 13, 2013 - Will a catalpa tree cause problems to my swimming pool? It is 8 feet away and I cut all the branches off every fall. It then grows back to about 6 feet in diameter an makes a great garden feature but ...
view the full question and answer

Flowering problems with Mexican Plum and Mimosa in Austin, TX
March 18, 2010 - Greetings, My Prunus mexicana (Mexican Plum) did not produce flowers before its leaves. Can you tell me why? I was hoping to have some fruit this year. Also, as of this morning March 13. My...
view the full question and answer

Trees for Socorro NM
June 28, 2012 - I recently moved from Austin to Socorro, NM. I want to add 2 shade trees to my hot, dry garden. I am considering Arizona Cypress, Live Oak (Quercus Fusiformis - yes, they are native in NM, as well a...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Trees for New Jersey
March 02, 2011 - My neighbor elevated a row of white pine between our houses at least 20 feet high leaving me with NO privacy and a row of ugly lollipops. What trees can I plant that will be fast growing and deer resi...
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