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

Replacement for non-native Italian Cypress in Austin
July 10, 2011 - I would appreciate your assistance with some native plant options to replace Italian Cypress trees in the Arboretum area of Austin, TX. I have 12 of the trees on the north side of the house to obstru...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen fast-growing native shrubs for privacy shield in Baytown, TX
March 07, 2006 - A gas well is going in across the road. We need a fast growing native tall shrub to line our property next to the road. It needs to maintain its leaves in the winter also. We hope to cut down on th...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on arborvitaes
March 28, 2005 - Hello, I live in Allentown, PA and have a 7-foot arborvitae shrub in my backyard, planted in the corner of the yard where a wood fence intersects with the brick wall of the garage. I have had ma...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screen for Heavy Clay and Full Sun in Louisiana
April 19, 2013 - What would be a fast-growing plant for privacy in Louisiana? I have heavy clay and full sun.
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

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