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

Need suggestions for trees to withstand high winds on Top Sail Island, North Caroloina.
August 20, 2013 - Moving to coastal southern North Carolina. Planting native trees and shrubs, wax bayberry, Redbud, love the River Birch. What type of tree has the deepest roots or would be least likely to blow over...
view the full question and answer

Watering Native Trees in Georgetown, TX
July 19, 2012 - I installed a native/adapted plantscape in early March including several small trees. They were planted in the rocky soil west of I-35 in Georgetown with plenty of added compost and mulch. Other than ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with tuliptree in North Salem IN
September 02, 2009 - I have a tulip tree and it looks like it is dying. The limbs are starting to turn bright blue. Do I have an insect problem or is it from a lightning strike?
view the full question and answer

Pruning Post Oaks
July 26, 2014 - I live in Houston and have two post oaks. One is right by my house. I'd like to trim them but was told they are sensitive and might die if I trim them. Is this true? What is the right course of ac...
view the full question and answer

Red oaks that didn't drop leaves in Austin
April 04, 2012 - I have a number of Red Oaks on land that did not drop leaves this past fall. Now these same trees seem to be dead? It seems there's some type of mold/fungus on the trees. Some trees have small patche...
view the full question and answer

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