Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
6 ratings

Monday - March 11, 2013

From: Smithville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Identification of bush with red berries
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

bush? grows along fence lines in rural areas; sheds foliage in fall; berries appear; colors vary from red to orange, depending on soil?

ANSWER:

Your description sounds to me like Ilex decidua (Possumhaw).  As the species name suggests, it is deciduous—shedding its leaves in winter—but the female trees retain their orange, red, or sometimes yellow berries after they lose their leaves.  The berries are eaten by at least 9 bird species including cedar waxwings.  The berries are most often eaten late in the winter season after the berries have gone through one or more freezes.  As far as I know, the berry color depends on the genetics of the plant.  I have never seen any information indicating that it is due to soils it grows in.  Here is more information from Aggie Horticulture, University of Florida Extension Service and Stephen F. Austin University.

The females of its close relative, Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon), also bear red berries; but, because they are evergreen, their red berries aren't as evident as those of the possumhaws.

 

From the Image Gallery


Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

More Shrubs Questions

Low water hedge for Sedona, AZ
August 19, 2009 - I'm looking for a shrub to plant along a 90' property line with my neighbor in Sedona, Arizona (high desert). Ideally, the shrub would grow to about 8' and would not require too much water. What wo...
view the full question and answer

Can Calycanthus floridus survive in South Dakota?
March 06, 2009 - Calycanthus in South Dakota? I've recently purchased some seeds for a calycanthus plant (floridus I think). I'm going to start them indoors but am wondering if this can survive a South Dakota winter...
view the full question and answer

Problems with rhododendrons in Germany
July 07, 2008 - I am writing with questions about rhododendrons. I purchased four small rhododendron/azalea hybrids in April. Because I had to prepare the garden before planting them, I left them in the pots they cam...
view the full question and answer

Enough sun from San Marcos TX
February 22, 2013 - I would like to plant both Lantana urticoides and Salvia farinacea in area that only has morning to 1pm sun..Will this amount of sun be enough?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a sunny, dry slope in NY
March 01, 2010 - Looking for plants, native to area, that are quick growing to a height of approximately 6" to 12" for a steep slope comprised of shale in a sunny location.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.