Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - August 22, 2006

From: Leander, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Determining gender of Texas Hill Country native trees
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

How can I identify which (Tx Hill Country) native trees are separate male & female? Specifically Tx Pistache and American Smoke Tree. Do I have to wait until they flower and inspect the flower for certain characteristics? Most helpful would be guidance to a book or article that explains the botanical characteristics, so that I can apply to other species.

ANSWER:

Plants with both male and female flowers on the same plant are said to be monoecious (in the same house). The botanical term for plants that have the female flowers and male flowers on separate plants is dioecious (in two houses). To be even more technical, the plants with only male flowers are said to be androecious and the ones with only female flowers are gynoecious—probably a lot more than you wanted to know!

Both of the trees you asked about, American smoketree (Cotinus obovatus) and Texas pistache (Pistacia mexicana) are dioecious, with their male and female flowers on separate plants. You can discover this by selecting "Characters" from the menu at the top of each plant's page. Unfortunately, not all of our records in the Native Plants Database carry that information. However, there are several print sources that do identify which plants are dioecious. Two of these are Trees, Shrubs, and Vines of the Texas Hill Country by Jan Wrede (Texas A&M University Press, 2005) and Trees of Central Texas by Robert A. Vines (University of Texas Press, 1984). Of the two, the Vines book describes the structure of the male and female flowers in great detail so that you could determine which gender your tree is.

 

More Trees Questions

Problems with Cedar Elm in Austin, TX.
August 04, 2012 - Our Cedar Elm has yellowing very dry leaves and something is eating the topmost leaves leaving holes and obviously chewed off leaf segments. Could this be two different things? Aphids and bacteria or ...
view the full question and answer

Pros and cons of live oak leaves left on ground in Dripping Springs TX
February 20, 2013 - What are the pros or cons of leaving live oak leaves on the ground around trees or bushes?
view the full question and answer

Magnolia in West Virginia ?
July 07, 2015 - Hello, is the Dwarf sweet magnolia a native shrub to WV?
view the full question and answer

Fast growing shade tree for East Texas Piney Woods
April 11, 2013 - What is the fastest growing shade tree for E.Tx.Piney Woods? We have an area that desperately needs protection from the summer heat. The site is comprised of gumbo clay and there are no other plants t...
view the full question and answer

Name of the cedar tree at Lake Travis
May 27, 2009 - What is the name of the cedar tree that is at Lake Travis?
view the full question and answer

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