Explore Plants

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
    
 

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
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

More Pollinators Questions

Cenizo for border of school garden from Cedar Park TX
January 27, 2014 - Hi. We're starting a school garden in Central Texas, and instead of building a fence along one side, we'd like to plant a hedge. Ideally, it would grow tall enough to deter deer from jumping over, b...
view the full question and answer

Do female possumhaws require male to bloom?
January 02, 2009 - Do female possumhaws require a male nearby to bloom? I've read that about yaupon hollies, but not possumhaws specifically. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Is Viburnum opulus var. americana (Viburnum trilobum) Self-fertile?
April 02, 2014 - I am trying to attract birds to my Chicago area yard and I believe I have good conditions to grow highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum). My question is about the need for cross pollination. The liter...
view the full question and answer

When may I remove seed heads from yuccas?
June 07, 2010 - Soft tip yuccas dominate my home's landscape. When is the best time to remove the heavy seed heads after flowering? In addition to being difficult to work around, the pods seem to attract infestatio...
view the full question and answer

Live oak trees buzzing in Taylor TX
October 20, 2012 - Is it possible for live oak trees to make a buzzing sound? We have heard this sound under our live oak and were worried it was bees but we don't seem to see any. I also heard the buzzing under my mot...
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.