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Sunday - May 31, 2009

From: Gadsden, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Propagation
Title: Pollination by dwarf yaupons of normal size selections in Gadsden AL
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Can dwarf varieties of male yaupons be used to pollinate non dwarf female yaupons? Specific males in question are Shillings (Stokes Dwarf) yaupon and Bordeaux Condeaux.


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. 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.

In answer to your specific question, the rule is (and we didn't make this rule, Nature did) the dioecious plant can only be pollinated by members of the same species that bloom at the same time.  The species name of yaupon is vomitoria. Assuming that the named plants you have listed are also of the species vomitoria, that will work. They probably are, because the dwarf version is more likely a selection of the same species that grew shorter on its own and plant breeders continued to develop the shorter form without hybridizing. The thing we don't know is if those selected dwarf forms will still bloom at the same time as the regular ones. They should, but again, the selection of the shorter form might conceivably change their bloom time. The bees don't have any way to store the pollen, and they really don't care if you want fruit on your bushes; they go where the flowers are and knock off. 

According to this North Carolina State University fact sheet on Stokes Dwarf Yaupon, the species is indeed vomitoria and all the plants are male and slow-growing. From the same source, we found that the 'Condeaux' is also of the species vomitoria and are also all male. 


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