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

Seven foot privacy fence in Tucson
November 25, 2014 - I am looking for a privacy hedge for a home in Tucson, Arizona that will be in full sun. Needs to be at least seven foot tall and low water and maintenance. Any suggestions.
view the full question and answer

What plants grow well in Athens, TX?
January 18, 2011 - Athens, Texas, we have very sandy soil mixed with clay, what plants grow well here?
view the full question and answer

Identifcation of strange orange growth on shrubs
May 04, 2009 - I have found a strange orange ball shape with softer spikes about 1-2 in. growing from it on my shrubs, they grow around the branch. I believe they are Yews. I have never seen them before but now ther...
view the full question and answer

Revegetation with Rosa Woodsii in Heber UT
July 26, 2013 - I am using Woods Roses for a revegetation project (to stop trail short cutting) in a public picnic area. Growing them from seed was too slow so I am experimenting with transplanting and it is working ...
view the full question and answer

How will my Texas Mountain Laurel survive clay soil?
June 09, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Pants: I live in a new neighborhood (brownfield site) in Central Austin where the developers have put fill in the yards. After not much more than 2 inches of topsoil you encounter fairl...
view the full question and answer

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