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 - April 23, 2012

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Propagation, Shrubs
Title: Male and female possumhaws for berries from Georgetown TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Do I need to plant two ilex decidua (possumhaws), a male and female to have red berries on the tree in the winter?

ANSWER:

Yes, the problem is going to be determining which is which. If you go to a nursery and the Ilex decidua (Possumhaw) all have berries, they are all females. Very often, nursery plants are propagated by cloning, which means every offspring will be the same sex. If you go to the nursery in Spring, the possumhaw will all have flowers, but that still doesn't tell you anything, they could be either sex. We are told that very skilled botanists with magnifying glasses can identify sex from examination of the flowers, but we aren't of that category.

If you ask for one male and one female at the nursery, they may have them but they may not know what you are talking about. When you see the possumhaws with berries, they may have been pollinated by male shrubs before the females ever left the greenhouse where they were propagated.

Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants article on this subject. The rule is that there must be a male of the same species and blooming at the same time somewhere close enough for the bees to pollinate.

 

From the Image Gallery


Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

More Planting Questions

Trees for cutout in driveway in Houston
November 12, 2010 - I live in central Houston. I have a new driveway with a cutout of 4' x 8'. I would like to plant a shade tree that will not break up the concrete. What do you recommend?
view the full question and answer

Need a shade tree to plant in Houston, TX
November 18, 2013 - Hi, i'm looking for a shade tree to plant on the southwest side of our house, both to make our backyard more enjoyable and to improve energy efficiency. We really like Live Oaks, but they just take t...
view the full question and answer

Tall perennials for a sunny North Carolina border
March 26, 2012 - I need border plants for in front of a picket fence along front sidewalk. Space is only approx 1'6" wide and widening is not an option. So far I have daylilies, cannas, Mexican petunias, daisies, i...
view the full question and answer

Transferring a palm tree from Florida to Pennsylvania from Reading PA
April 06, 2012 - Is it legal to transport a small palm tree (12" high) from FL to PA?
view the full question and answer

How to make a lawn into a prairie in Arlington, Texas
September 15, 2010 - I am removing lawn grasses in order to start a native prairie meadow. After grass removal, I'll put down 1/2" of compost. I will broadcast wildflower seeds on the compost. If I mulch after broadcas...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center