Is Rhus aromatica 'Gro Lo' female?

Asked October 24, 2019, 8:23 PM EDT


None of my over 50 Rhus 'Gro Lo' produce berries, but I've seen them on Gro Lo in other areas. After researching this issue, I learned that Rhus aromatica is often dioecious and Oregon State University (only place I found that references this) lists Gro Lo as female.

Can you confirm this? I strongly desire the berries and will source and plant male Rhus aromatica if necessary, but it won't be easy to find and I don't really have the space...

Thanks, in advance, for your insight!


Bucks County Pennsylvania

1 Response

Here is a link to an article from the Missouri Botanical Garden describing rhus aromatica.
According to the description in the article, r. aromatica produces separate male and female flowers that appear at different times of the year. That means the male catkins need to persist over the winter to be available to the female flowers, This is most likely where the problem lies. Either your shrubs aren't producing the catkins, or the wildlife is eating the contents.

First check to see if any of your shrubs are producing catkins. They should be visible right now. If there aren't any shrubs with catkins, then that is the problem. I attached a photo so you can see a catkin. If you see catkins, you can send a sample to the Penn State Plant Clinic and ask them if the catkins are fertile. Here is a link to the plant clinic.
If birds are visiting the catkins, you can bag them with a non plastic bag with air flow like a fine mesh to stop the birds. If you bought the shrubs locally, you can also go back to the nursery and get them to look at the catkins.

Here is a quote from the article. "Tiny yellow flowers bloom at the twig tips in early spring before the foliage. Separate male flowers (in catkins) and female flowers (in clusters) appear on the same plants (monoecious) or, more commonly, on different plants (dioecious). Male catkins form in late summer and persist throughout the winter until eventually blooming in spring. Female flowers give way in late summer to small clusters of hairy, red berries which may persist into winter."