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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - June 30, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany
Title: Does Nolina lindheimeriana have separate male and female plants
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

RE: NOLINA LINDHEIMERIANA You show several pictures, with flowers & with seed pods. I have one plant that has only flowers and one that has only seed pods. Are they male and female? I don't see anything mentioned in the info about?

ANSWER:

According to the Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas by Donovan Correll and Marshall Johnston (1979), Nolina lindheimeriana (Devil's shoestring) and all species in the Genus Nolina are polygamo-dioecious.   Their Glossary (pp. 1745-1764) defines polygamo-dioecious as: "Polygamous but chiefly dioecious."  To understand that definition you need to know that their definition for:

  • polygamous:  "Bearing unisexual and bisexual flowers on the same plant."
  • dioecious:  "Having staminate and pistillate flowers in different plants."

You can see pictures of the flowers on Frio Canyon Nature webpage.

Here are more photos from the Image Archive of Central Texas Plants from the University of Texas and here is a photo of a bee pollinator on the blossom of N. linheimeriana.

To answer the question about your particular plants, the one with seed pods either had pistillate (female) flowers or perfect flowers (pistillate and staminate structures in the same flower) to produce the seed pods.

If the plant with flowers hasn't/doesn't eventually produce seed pods, then either all its flowers were staminate (male) flowers or they were pistillate or perfect flowers that were not successfully pollintated.

 

From the Image Gallery


Devil's shoestring
Nolina lindheimeriana

Devil's shoestring
Nolina lindheimeriana

Devil's shoestring
Nolina lindheimeriana

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Bibliography

Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas (1979) Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston

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