En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Monday - November 08, 2010

From: Victoria, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: No Berries on Possumhaw from Victoria, TX
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

I bought a Possumhaw about 4 years ago because I love red berry plants. So you can realize my disappointment in this very healthy looking green tree that refuses to give me any red berries. What is wrong with this baby of mine? I'll do anything to get some of those lovely red berries I see in pictures and other people's yards. Thanks.

ANSWER:

Congratulations, it's a boy!

Ilex decidua (Possumhaw) is a dioecious plant, meaning the flowers on an individual tree are either male or female. Since your "baby" is four years old and otherwise healthy, the most likely explanation for the lack of berries is that it is a male. A much less likely explanation is that it is a female, but there are no male trees in the vicinity. Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants anwer that discusses how near a male tree needs to be. The short answer is the pollination is done by bees and the male tree can be miles away.

The only way you can be sure you are purchasing a female possumhaw is to purchase it during the fall or winter and make sure it has berries.

I'm sure this isn't the answer you wanted to hear, but a male possumhaw is still a nice looking small tree that should do well in your landscape. Maybe you can hang christmas ornaments on it?


Ilex decidua


Ilex decidua


Ilex decidua

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Lilac bush roots dangerous to house foundations
August 06, 2008 - Are lilac bushes dangerous to the foundation of a house? There is a lovely white-blooming lilac that grows against the house outside my bedroom window. My ex-husband said that the roots would destro...
view the full question and answer

Moderate-sized trees for lawn in West Virginia
August 10, 2014 - I recently had a landscape design completed by a professional lanscape company. The landscape is sloping down in front of my house. At the corner they included a Sweet Bay Magnolia, which we like ve...
view the full question and answer

Is cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) edible?
December 21, 2012 - I found a post here about cenizo leaves being used for tea, but I'm wondering if the leaves of the cenizo are edible? I have found many recipes for 'brown butter sage' leaves (sauteed often with on...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Philadelphus Innocence mock orange from Paris TX
June 20, 2012 - What is the best place in the garden to grow Philadelphus Innocence mock orange in Paris, Tx? Also, how long after transplanting do flowers occur? Any tips appreciated
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub with red berries in Florida
April 22, 2008 - I purchased a plant/shrub at a yard sale in central Fl. They told me it was a native plant. It looks like a holly with the red berries but the leaves are not like a holly. They were all over the yar...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center