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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.

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Thursday - April 01, 2010

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: How close to a female tree will a male Possumhaw Holly need to be planted to ensure pollination in Plano, TX?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I would like to plant a female Possumhaw Holly in my yard. Does a male need to be planted nearby in order for the female to have berries? If so, how close must the male tree be located?

ANSWER:

Possumhaw Holly,  Ilex decidua (possumhaw), is a dioecious species which means that both "male" and "female" plants are needed for the "female" to produce those beautiful berries that persisit through the winter months.

Possumhaw Holly plants are pollinated by bees, and I found some interesting information about bees in this Agriculture Fact Sheet #111 from the Province of British Columbia. In this I learned that bees can forage as far as 8 miles from the hive. From this, one might infer that the "male" tree could be planted anywhere in your yard. If bees find one of the trees, they should also find the other.

You might look around your neighborhood to see if there are any Possumhaw Holly trees with berries. If so, chances are there is a willing pollen donor in the neighborhood as well. This website from the University of Texas at Austin suggests that even though the plant is dioecious, some "female" flowers do contain stamens that produce pollen. So you may not need to plant a "male" tree after all.


Ilex decidua

Ilex decidua

 

 

 


 

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