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
2 ratings

Wednesday - November 04, 2009

From: Metairie, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pollinators, Propagation, Shrubs
Title: Why is my yaupon tree not producing berries in Metairie La?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What is the lifespan of a Yaupon Tree? We live in Louisiana, and our Yaupon would always get the white flowers in the Spring but never the red berries. Why is that?

ANSWER:

From our Native Plant Database on Ilex vomitoria (yaupon):

"Yaupon is a versatile plant that tolerates drought and poor drainage, with best production of red fruit when shrub gets half a day of sun or more. Nursery plants are typically female (fruiting) and are propagated by cuttings. You must have both a male and female plant to have berries. The male must be the same species as the female and bloom at the same time."

When you go to a commercial nursery to purchase a yaupon, they usually all have berries because that's what the customers want. So, you buy the little plants and take them home, and the next year, unless you have a male yaupon within about 40 ft. of your plants, there will be no berries. The plants were pollinated by males before they were shipped to market. While the yaupon is a very common plant and males may be growing in the vicinity, that doesn't always hold true because, as you see in our excerpt above, the nursery plants are propagated by cuttings, meaning they are all clones of the parent, which was female. The workers at the nursery probably don't know the difference, and you will have to do some insisting to get a male plant ordered for you, but we doubt there will be any males on the actual sales floor. Both males and females bear the white flowers, but since the plant is dioecious, there must be a pollinating male present each year for the females to grow berries. 

As for the lifespan of the yaupon, we really don't know, but we can tell you it is a slow-growing tree and grows from 12 to 25 ft. tall. It can be pruned and shaped, but will probably have more longevity than a faster-growing shrub or tree.  

 

From the Image Gallery


Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

More Shrubs Questions

When to Prune Desert Willow in Texas?
March 18, 2016 - I just learned I should have pruned back my desert willows. It's early March in North Texas. Is it too late to prune now? They are not leafing out yet.
view the full question and answer

Information on Betonyleaf thoroughwort
September 04, 2008 - I purchased Conoclinium betonicifolium (Betonyleaf thoroughwort) at the spring 2008 LBJ WC plant sale. I've not been able to find much information on the plant in the typical places, including the...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Adding 5 inches of Mulch and Soil Under Juniper
July 03, 2016 - My landscaper added about 3" of mulch and 2" of dirt under my ashe junipers to create a planting bed. Several have turned gold/yellowish this winter including a female tree. They are still flexible an...
view the full question and answer

Hiding a chicken house from Glen Rose TX
February 06, 2013 - To hide a chicken house, which do you recommend, crape myrtles or chinese photinias?
view the full question and answer

Plants to prevent erosion on slope in Texas
June 19, 2010 - We have an erosion problem developing on the low side of a gently sloping hill. We are in clay soil at the base of the hill with oaks and pines. We have a right of way that is without trees forty fee...
view the full question and answer

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