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Monday - May 18, 2015

From: Pineville , LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Male and female Ilex decidua ( Possumhaw) trees
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I was excited to finally find and purchase a male and female possum haw pair via Amazon. (Berry Poppins variety). They were marked male-female and are thriving. But the male has little flowers and the female appears to have the same flowers. Is there a way to determine if these were labeled correctly? Also--when I plant these in my yard this fall can I plant them together in the same hole ?


Ilex decidua (Possumhaw) is dioecious—that is, any single tree has either exclusively male (staminate) flowers or only female (pistillate) flowers. Look at the photos of male and female flowers from Archive of Central Texas Plants and Carolina Nature.  The flowers themselves look similar; however, the male flowers have stamens with pollen occurring at the tip.  Female flowers have sterile stamens without pollen and the ovary becomes enlarged.  You will note, however, that the text with the photos from Archive of Central Texas Plants says that sometimes a single possumhaw tree will have both male and female flowers so they are not always strictly dioecious.

Possumhaws are fertilized by insects so it is not necessary to plant them in the same hole.  In fact, it is probably not a good idea since both need an area for their roots to expand to offer the tree the most nutrients and moisture.  If you have planted them within 10 to 15 feet from each other, the insects are bound to visit both flowering trees to fertilize the female flowers and produce beautiful red berries.


From the Image Gallery

Ilex decidua

Ilex decidua

Ilex decidua

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