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 Planting Questions

Problems with chile pequin from Pflugerville TX
July 19, 2012 - Hello there! I have a question about my chile pequin (Capsicum annuum L.) plant. I purchased it last year from the Wildflower Center Fall Plant Sale. It stayed in a pot until three months ago when I p...
view the full question and answer

Ensuring survival of wax myrtle in Wilmington, NC
July 29, 2009 - I just transplanted some wax myrtle bushes. What do I need to do to insure they live?
view the full question and answer

Feeding live oak and redbud trees from Fredericksburg TX
October 23, 2012 - Can you please tell me what to feed my live oak and texas redbud trees that survived the drought? We have granite soil.
view the full question and answer

Yard Trees for Burleson, TX
July 24, 2011 - We need to replace 2 mature pear trees in our front yard, north side of the house in Burleson, TX. We are looking for faster growing trees that will last for decades that resist disease in clay soil....
view the full question and answer

Need an evergreen flowering vine to cover a fence in Houston, TX.
May 28, 2012 - Looking for an evergreen flowering vine to cover my fence. caveat? one part of the fence is within 5 feet from the air conditioning unit which blows a lot of hot air, the area takes a day or two to dr...
view the full question and answer

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