En Español

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - April 18, 2013

From: Oakland, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Pollinators, Shrubs
Title: Bees on non-native holly from Oakland TN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have bees all over my Nellie Stevens holly. Can I spray anything to alleviate this issue?

ANSWER:

Oh, please don't kill the bees. We have lost so many, many pollinators to various environmental factors, insecticides and, in the case of bees, Colony Collapse Disorder. Nellie Stevens holly is a hybrid of two hollies, neither of which is native to North America. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, propagation and propagation of plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which those plants grow naturally; in your case, Fayette County, TN.

Nellie Stevens Holly is a hybrid, a mix of Ilex acquifolium and Ilex cornuta and therefore is considered a non-native. Kew Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens indicates that  Ilex acquifolium, is native to Great Britain; in England it blooms in May. From the Missouri Botanical Gardens, Ilex cornuta, native to China and Korea, is also listed as blooming in May.

There are 4 members of the Ilex genus native to Tennessee, of those Ilex decidua (Possumhaw) which blooms from March to May, Ilex opaca (American holly) blooming from March to June, and Ilex verticillata (Common winterberry) blooming from April to July, all are native in the area of Fayette County. The point being, Ilex pollinators, which are mainly honey bees, are in your area now, busily gathering pollen and unintentionally contributing to the propagation of the native hollies. The hollies native to Tennessee all begin blooming earlier, and your Nellie Stevens probably is doing the same thing. We are not even sure pollinating the Nellie Stevens holly makes any contribution to propagation of the holly, because most hybrids are sterile. But it is an enormous contribution to the preservation of the bees.When your holly finishes blooming, the bees will leave. Honey bees are rarely aggressive, and if you spray a pesticide you will not only kill them but various other insects like butterflies.

Please read this article The Importance of Bees in Nature with special attention to this line:

"The bees have to find their food in flowers. The food can be nectar or pollen. Nectar is produced to attract the bees. Pollen is also attracting the bees, but it has another function too: it is produced to ensure the next generation of plants."

 

From the Image Gallery


Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

American holly
Ilex opaca

Common winterberry
Ilex verticillata

More Pollinators Questions

Why is my yaupon tree not producing berries in Metairie La?
November 04, 2009 - What is the lifespan of a Yaupon Tree? We live in Louisiana, and our Yaupon would always get the white flowers in the Spring but never the red berries. Why is that?
view the full question and answer

Failure of hybridized red hollies to grow
April 17, 2008 - I have 2 red hollies planted in my yard about 20' apart, 3 years now. They won't grow. Do I need to have a male with them?
view the full question and answer

Native plants in Denton Co. TX pollinated by bats or hummingbirds
December 07, 2011 - I am looking for a list of Denton Co. TX native plants that are pollinated by bats? Do we have any? How about hummingbirds?
view the full question and answer

Hummingbird Bushes for Broken Arrow OK
August 27, 2014 - I am looking for bushes that attract hummingbirds. I live in Broken Arrow, OK. Can you recommend some?
view the full question and answer

Native Perennials for Bees and Butterflies in VA
April 15, 2015 - What native perennial plants and trees can we plant to help honey bees and butterfly larvae in Harrisonburg, VA?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center