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
6 ratings

Monday - March 11, 2013

From: Smithville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Identification of bush with red berries
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

bush? grows along fence lines in rural areas; sheds foliage in fall; berries appear; colors vary from red to orange, depending on soil?

ANSWER:

Your description sounds to me like Ilex decidua (Possumhaw).  As the species name suggests, it is deciduous—shedding its leaves in winter—but the female trees retain their orange, red, or sometimes yellow berries after they lose their leaves.  The berries are eaten by at least 9 bird species including cedar waxwings.  The berries are most often eaten late in the winter season after the berries have gone through one or more freezes.  As far as I know, the berry color depends on the genetics of the plant.  I have never seen any information indicating that it is due to soils it grows in.  Here is more information from Aggie Horticulture, University of Florida Extension Service and Stephen F. Austin University.

The females of its close relative, Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon), also bear red berries; but, because they are evergreen, their red berries aren't as evident as those of the possumhaws.

 

From the Image Gallery


Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

More Trees Questions

Is the palm tree a true tree?
December 18, 2008 - Hello, There has been constant debate here about the Palm Tree. I'm in Las Vegas and I have heard everything from it not being a true tree but a cacti or a giant thistle?! I've tried to research...
view the full question and answer

Using cedar chips as mulch in Wimberley, TX
August 19, 2010 - In TX Hlll Country there is an abundance of wood chips, usually "cedar", which I have used as plant mulch. Since wood chips extract nitrogen to decay, do you consider chips a poor choice as plant m...
view the full question and answer

Fertilizing oaks to produce more acorns
March 04, 2009 - What type of fertilizer would I use on oak trees to possibly increase growth and acorn production ? I have some flooded oak timber that is home to migrating ducks but there is little for them to eat.
view the full question and answer

Is the orchid tree (Bauhinia lunarioides) poisonous to dogs?
September 26, 2008 - is the orchid tree (bauhinia) poisonous to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Protection of live oak trees from covering by concrete patio
February 02, 2008 - I am thinking about pouring a large cement patio around my live oak trees in my yard. I live in Rockport Tx. How far should the edge of the cement be, from the base of the tree? Will the patio kill th...
view the full question and answer

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