En Español

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
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

Brown leaves on possumhaw holly in Grandview TX
July 02, 2009 - What would be likely causes for brown leaves on possumhaw holly? We have 2, one was planted in spring 2008, and a slightly larger one planted late winter/early spring this year. Most of the leaves a...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting adventitious shoots of a mountain laurel in San Antonio
August 20, 2009 - Is it possible to transplant branches (shoots) growing from a mountain laurel that was chopped down? Some are two years old and several feet tall (but not yet blooming) and some as small as a foot. ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a property near a conservation area in MD
July 18, 2011 - Can you tell me what native plants and the type of landscaping that would be good to plant in front of a forest conservation area that is on a steep hill behind our future house? It is located in Manc...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screen for Reading MA
June 27, 2012 - Best tree to grow for a privacy screen - Hello, we recently moved into a new house in Reading and have an open area on the side of our house where we can make a privacy screen from our neighbors. Wha...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for fenceline in Houston
September 13, 2009 - I live in Houston, TX and would like your suggestion on what plants, trees or shrubs would work best to grow alongside a fence to hide a neighbor's backyard. We all have relatively small backyards.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center