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

Lopidea texana nymphs and adults feeding on Mountain Laurel in March
April 04, 2006 - What is the species name of the bright red bug (Miridae) nymphs and adults that are feeding on Texas Mountain Laurel leaves at this time (March 24) at the Wildflower Center?
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for trees with non-invasive root system in Paramus, NJ.
August 23, 2011 - What trees can I plant in New Jersey with non invasive root systems? We lost our tree to a storm and are looking for a viable replacement.
view the full question and answer

Shrub to scrren house from dust from gravel road
July 28, 2013 - HI: We live in the foothills of Dobbins, California (2 hours North of Sacramento, Ca). I live on a gravel dirt road with traffic that goes about 45 miles an hour. When they drive by our house it lo...
view the full question and answer

Failure of smoke tree to bloom in Alburtis PA
September 07, 2009 - For whatever reason, my smoke tree did not bloom during its second season. Any ideas?
view the full question and answer

Why is Rhus aromatica more deer resistant from Seattle
December 07, 2009 - I have a large area that I would like to cover with Rhus aromatica. My landscaper says that in his experience, Rhus typhina and glabra in this area are heavily browsed by deer. I noticed in your dat...
view the full question and answer

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