Are There Male & Female Fruit Trees?
For a tree to bear fruit, its flowers must be pollinated. Some fruit trees have flowers that can pollinate themselves. Others have separate male and female flowers, while some have only male or only female flowers.
Pollination occurs when pollen from the male part of a flower transfers to the female part of a flower. Some flowers, called "perfect flowers," contain both male and female parts. Other flowers are exclusively male or exclusively female.
Some fruit trees, called "self-fruitful," contain perfect flowers that can produce fruit from their own pollen. "Self-unfruitful" trees, on the other hand, contain perfect flowers that are unable to pollinate themselves. Other trees, called "monoecious," contain separate male and female flowers on the same tree. "Dioecious" trees contain only male flowers or only female flowers.
To tell whether a fruit tree is male or female, check to see if it has fruit. If it does, it must be female. A fruitless tree is not necessarily male, however. It could simply be a female tree that has not been pollinated.
Male & Female Stage Blossoms On Fruit Trees
The male stamen of a flower consists of an anther, covered with sticky pollen, that sits atop a slender filament. Pollen must be transferred from the anther to stigma for the flower to be fertile and bear fruit. There are variations to how those the male and female parts appear when you look inside the flower of a particular fruit, but those are the essentials. An avocado flower first opens as female for two to four hours, exposing its stigma to insects bearing pollen. On the afternoon of the second day it opens as a male. Papaya flowers are not genetically programmed to routinely change sex, but in hot summer weather male or bisexual flowers will sometimes change into females. The petals of the sugar apple, also called the custard apple, open slightly during the day revealing a glistening surface of the female stigma, indicating that it is receptive to pollen. The flowers open wide the next morning to reveal the brownish male anther. Their petals turn from green to purple and are tightly packed in the female stage; their sticky stigma are shiny and green.
- University of California: The California Backyard Orchard
- Ohio State University Extension: Sexes in Ornamental Plants
- University of California: Avocado Flower Basics
- Purdue University: Papaya
- California Rare Fruit Growers Association: Papaya
- University of Hawaii Extension: Papaya
- Clemson University: North American Paw Paw
- California Rare Fruit Growers: Fruit Gardener: How to Hand Pollinate Paw Paws