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Tree Sex: Gender & Reproductive Strategies

Reference Type
University Outreach Publication

Monograph on sexual systems in trees.

Your grandmother suggested sex would get you into trouble if you were not careful. For tree professionals, not appreciating tree sexual expression can lead to unexpected tree growth performance, failed client expectations, and liability and maintenance problems. Tree sex expression is more complex than simply thinking of a “boy” or “girl” tree.

For animals, gender is visible as sexual parts, secondary features, and behavior. Having bright feathers, unique coloration, manes of hair, and acting either male or female is a fact of life. Sexual identity is usually accepted as a function of physical features. For humans, maleness and femaleness are polar ends of genetic programing and social life. Not so for trees. While human gender issues spawn jokes and angst, tree gender identification can cause great confusion. Preliminary tree gender is determined by the types of flowers produced. Tree flowers can have male parts, female parts, both male and female parts, or none at all. Some of these parts are functional and some are not. You can not tell flower function (or gender) just by looking.


Dr. Kim D. Coder
Date Published
August 2008
Warnell School, University of Georgia
Publisher Location
Athens, GA, USA
Publication Number
Biology (tree), Cultivar Selection, Ecology, Identification, Landscape Ecology, Nursery, Plant Health Care, Silvics, Selection (tree), Species Selection
Georgia, National, Eastern, Southeast, Southern, International
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