Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Suppport the plant database you love!

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
3 ratings

Wednesday - November 04, 2009

From: Metairie, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pollinators, Propagation, Shrubs
Title: Why is my yaupon tree not producing berries in Metairie La?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

From our Native Plant Database on Ilex vomitoria (yaupon):

"Yaupon is a versatile plant that tolerates drought and poor drainage, with best production of red fruit when shrub gets half a day of sun or more. Nursery plants are typically female (fruiting) and are propagated by cuttings. You must have both a male and female plant to have berries. The male must be the same species as the female and bloom at the same time."

When you go to a commercial nursery to purchase a yaupon, they usually all have berries because that's what the customers want. So, you buy the little plants and take them home, and the next year, unless you have a male yaupon within about 40 ft. of your plants, there will be no berries. The plants were pollinated by males before they were shipped to market. While the yaupon is a very common plant and males may be growing in the vicinity, that doesn't always hold true because, as you see in our excerpt above, the nursery plants are propagated by cuttings, meaning they are all clones of the parent, which was female. The workers at the nursery probably don't know the difference, and you will have to do some insisting to get a male plant ordered for you, but we doubt there will be any males on the actual sales floor. Both males and females bear the white flowers, but since the plant is dioecious, there must be a pollinating male present each year for the females to grow berries. 

As for the lifespan of the yaupon, we really don't know, but we can tell you it is a slow-growing tree and grows from 12 to 25 ft. tall. It can be pruned and shaped, but will probably have more longevity than a faster-growing shrub or tree.  

 

From the Image Gallery


Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

More Pollinators Questions

Butterfly egg kit from Spring Hill FL
October 27, 2011 - Could you please tell me all native plant(s) I can buy for my Sons Painted Lady Butterfly kit (eggs are going to hatch soon)and I don't know what to buy for the baby caterpillars to eat. I contacted ...
view the full question and answer

Is Franklinia alatamaha (Franklin tree) a major honeybee nectar source?
January 31, 2015 - Is the Franklinia tree a major nectar source for honeybees?
view the full question and answer

Soil Loosener/Pollinator Plants for Houston
August 11, 2014 - I am trying to establish a mostly-native pollinator way-station in a recently purchased lot in a 100 year old neighborhood in Houston. Much of the property has a thick layer of oyster shell four to si...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly information on Wildflower.org
March 23, 2015 - Why are butterflies like the "canaries in the coal mine" -- or, what plants best help butterflies? I know the answers, but I don't see the info on your web site. You have a feature under native p...
view the full question and answer

Moving wildflowers into a pollinator garden in Webster NY
July 27, 2009 - I live in the Western New York area and would like to utilize unwanted wildflowers near our roadside and woodland area into a large pollinator garden I am creating. What is a safe way to move an enti...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.