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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - February 15, 2007

From: Buda, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Differentiating between Iles decidua and Ilex vomitoria
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Is there any way to tell a male possum haw holly from a female? I have a possum haw that never lost all of it's leaves and has no berries. Could it be a male?

ANSWER:

First of all, Possumhaw (Ilex decidua) and Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria) look very similar, except that yaupon is evergreen. Perhaps you have a yaupon tree and that is why your tree still has leaves. Both trees are dioecious (having flowers with male structures and flowers with female structures on separate trees).

Although there could be reasons a female plant would not produce berries (e.g., no male trees near enough to provide pollen or some environmental cause such as a late freeze or heavy rains), there is a good chance that you have a male tree since you had no fruit. However, you need to see the flowers to tell for sure. The male flowers have functional stamens producing pollen. The female flowers have stamens that produce no pollen. Even though they are dioecious plants, they aren't always completely so. The female flowers generally have nonfunctioning stamens, but sometimes you will find perfect flowers—those with both a functioning pistil and also with stamens producing pollen.

You can see drawings of male and female flowers of possumhaw and yaupon on the USDA Plants Database. Note that the female flower has an enlarged ovary and stamens that are slender with no pollen. The male flowers have stamens that are fully developed with pollen. You can look at the blossoms in the spring (March, April, May) when both trees bloom to determine whether your tree is male or female.

 

More Trees Questions

Trophy tree for Spicewood, Texas
September 30, 2008 - I want to plant a trophy Mesquite at the bottom of the hill, in Spicewood. I'm told that it may not flourish, because of the soil in my area. If that is the case, what would be a striking tree as a...
view the full question and answer

Need small, fast growing trees for privacy screen in Buda, TX.
February 01, 2013 - Please recommend some small, but fast growing, flowering trees to plant along a western fence for privacy
view the full question and answer

Need a tree with a tap root for a small flower bed in Winston-Salem, NC..
May 20, 2010 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants, I am looking for a tree 6-10', somewhat spreading, could flower (not essential) to serve as a focal point in a small bed with small shrubs and perennials. I need a tree with ...
view the full question and answer

Hurricane resistant alternatives to crape myrtle
September 02, 2007 - Are there any native small to medium trees (15-25 ft) to use instead of crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia indica)? Crapemyrtles come in many colors and bend with hurricane winds instead of snapping or uproo...
view the full question and answer

Replanting of non-native Christmas Palm from Sarasota FL
November 28, 2012 - Do you know of a proven technique to plant a Christmas Palm in a built-in concrete pool deck planter box - using gravel around the soil root ball to delay the root bound condition we just ripped out?
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