Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support 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

Monday - April 23, 2012

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Propagation, Shrubs
Title: Male and female possumhaws for berries from Georgetown TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Do I need to plant two ilex decidua (possumhaws), a male and female to have red berries on the tree in the winter?

ANSWER:

Yes, the problem is going to be determining which is which. If you go to a nursery and the Ilex decidua (Possumhaw) all have berries, they are all females. Very often, nursery plants are propagated by cloning, which means every offspring will be the same sex. If you go to the nursery in Spring, the possumhaw will all have flowers, but that still doesn't tell you anything, they could be either sex. We are told that very skilled botanists with magnifying glasses can identify sex from examination of the flowers, but we aren't of that category.

If you ask for one male and one female at the nursery, they may have them but they may not know what you are talking about. When you see the possumhaws with berries, they may have been pollinated by male shrubs before the females ever left the greenhouse where they were propagated.

Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants article on this subject. The rule is that there must be a male of the same species and blooming at the same time somewhere close enough for the bees to pollinate.

 

From the Image Gallery


Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

More Shrubs Questions

Native flowering plants for Frisco, Texas
August 12, 2015 - Hi There, I recently moved from Ohio, Cleveland to TX, Frisco. Could you please suggest me native flowering plants in my back yard and front yard. I like different flowers.
view the full question and answer

What causes rock rose branches to snap off?
August 30, 2013 - my small texas rock rose branches keep snapping in the center. What is causing this and what can I do?
view the full question and answer

Dogwoods Late in Blooming
May 14, 2015 - We are seeing no evidence of flowers on two dogwoods this year. One usually is in bloom now, the other later on in the spring.
view the full question and answer

Male or female Jatropha curcas from Brownsville TX
August 16, 2012 - How do know the sex of a young Jatropha C. plant? how many weeks before you can tell a boy/girl plant ?
view the full question and answer

What is the bush that has very bright red berries in the fall/winter and no leaves?
December 27, 2015 - What is the name of the bush that has very bright red berries in the fall/winter and no leaves? I am familiar with amour honeysuckle, and I'm sure that it is not that.
view the full question and answer

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