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Mr. Smarty Plants - Why is my yaupon tree not producing berries in Metairie La?

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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

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