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

Wednesday - September 22, 2010

From: SaddleBrooke, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Are there male and female mesquite trees and do both have seeds?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Do both male and female mesquite trees (all species) have seed pods?

ANSWER:

As far as Mr. Smarty Plants knows, Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite) and all species of Propsopis have perfect, or bisexual, flowers with both stamens (male parts) and pistils (female parts) on the same flower.  Some other plants have separate male and female flowers on the same plant.  These plants are referred to as monoecious.  Still others have separate plants with male flowers and separate plants with female flowers and are called dioecious. Since mesquite trees have perfect flowers with both male and female parts, any mesquite tree has the potential to produce seed pods.  However, in some years the environmental conditions may be such (e.g., late freeze that damages flowers) that the plants don't produce a great number of seed pods.  Here is a link to more information about plant sexuality.

I did find a reference to a paper that says that Prosopis chilensis, P. pugionata, P. flexuosa, and P. forquata are andromonoecious, meaning that the plants have some perfect flowers that have both male and female parts and other flowers that function strictly as males.  Since there is a mixture of flowers on the plants, those flowers that still function as females would produce seeds. 

If you live near a university, you might be able to find a copy of the paper.  It is:

Hoc, Patricia S., Maria A. Agullo, and Ramon A. Palacios.  1994.  "Stylar trimorphism in four functionally andromonoecious Prosopis species (Mimosaceae)".  Plant Systematics and Evolution 190:143-156.

 

More Trees Questions

Hill Country natives for a hedge
June 01, 2006 - Can you recommend a "hedge type" bush to use in lieu of a fence along the road in the San Antonio region? My whole back yard is planted with Hill Country natives and I would prefer to keep the the...
view the full question and answer

Life expectancy for Ulmus crassifolia
June 21, 2007 - What is the life expectancy for a cedar elm? We live in Austin, and the tree was likely here before the house, which was built in 1939.
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native weeping willow from Hazlet NJ
July 03, 2013 - Leaves turning yellow on weeping willow planted in May. What causes this and how can I fix it? Mother's Day gift after SANDY uprooted huge tree.
view the full question and answer

Damaged Shumard oak tree in Polk County Texas
July 24, 2010 - I have a native Shumard Red Oak on our property in Polk County Texas that suffered damage (top blown out) during Hurricane Ike. Last year, one side of the tree browned early while the other side stay...
view the full question and answer

Sudden death of Texas Mountain Laurel
April 14, 2008 - Last year, my 15-year-old Mountain Laurel died very suddenly. The leaves began to curl up and turn brown, and it was dead within about 15 days. What happened?
view the full question and answer

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