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
1 rating

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

 

 

 


 

More Trees Questions

Growth on trunk of Eastern Redbud
November 14, 2007 - My seven yr. old Eastern Redbud has a large patch (12x4inches) of white grey, shell or mushroom-like growth on the trunk. The bark has a wide split so the growth is on the layer of wood inside the sp...
view the full question and answer

Care for indoor Lemon Cypress
November 30, 2008 - How do I care for an indoor Lemon Cypress tree?
view the full question and answer

Hypoxylon Canker removal in Austin TX
March 26, 2012 - I have several oaks that appear to have been killed by Hypoxylon atropunctatum from last summer's drought. Is it safe to cut them down in March or does that risk spreading Oak Wilt too. Should I ...
view the full question and answer

Care of butternut trees (Juglans cinerea) with bumpy growths
June 12, 2007 - I have two small butternuts, around 3-4 feet. One has developed very 'bumpy' reddish growths on the leaves that are actually stunting their growth. What do you think it is and what can i do to sto...
view the full question and answer

Replacing a Mexican ash with a live oak in Rockport TX
April 25, 2010 - I live in the Texas Coastal Bend (Rockport, TX). I recently lost a huge Mexican Ash, probably 45 years old. The trunk measures 11'6" at ground level, and gets progressively larger from there up. Its...
view the full question and answer

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