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
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 Plant Identification Questions

How to get rid of plants spreading fluffy seeds
July 27, 2008 - I live in Blaine, MN next to a Lake. The "buffer zones" next to the lake are filled with native grasses, weeds & wildflowers. We are trying to identify a plant that blooms July with lavender flowe...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification from Springfield MA
July 19, 2009 - We have a house next to us that is vacant. The lawn has not been mowed in months. a tall flower has grown amongst the grass and weeds. It is about 3 to 4 feet tall green stem and the flower is about 2...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification
April 01, 2009 - I have small shiny red berries growing on a tropical appearing shrub with green and marled yellow leaves. The leaves have widely serrated edges. The berries have a large seed inside and very little fl...
view the full question and answer

Wild onions and garlic in Genus Allium
June 25, 2006 - My husband and I found a strange bulb like plant that when broken open it smells and tastes like strong onion or garlic. The heads are at the top of the plant though not at the root base like most wil...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from New York
September 02, 2008 - I have a large leaf from a plant that my grandfather has. We live in Niagara county NY. The large leaf is green and has a red stem, growing on a stalk THICK like a sunflower, now has red or black berr...
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