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

What's attacking my Nellie Stevens Holly plants in Iredell, TX?
June 27, 2011 - I just bought 10 Nellie R. Stevens holly bushes and planted them as a screen. The leaves on some of the plants are at least half white - not yellow but white. Apparently they were like that when I b...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control on partially shaded slope
November 27, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Atlanta, GA. My house is on a hill, and I am beginning to have erosion at my backyard porch (concrete slab, on the corners especially). The soil is mainly red clay, a...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs for New Jersey
September 01, 2009 - Need suggestions for Zone 6; Up to 2-3'H compact; evergreen foundation plants; deer resistant; sunny-partial shade; clay soil conditions. Appreciate your input.
view the full question and answer

Drought-Tolerant, Evergreen Groundcover for CA
August 21, 2014 - We are looking for a drought tolerant, evergreen groundcover for California. I am considering Sarcococca hookeriana and Cotoneaster dammeri but don't know if they're the best options for the area. I...
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep bank in Pennsylvania
July 12, 2011 - What do I do with a very steep bank with hard clay soil to stop erosion and to look nice. Is there a ground cover that would help?
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