plant-related terminology

David R. Hershey dh321 at PGSTUMAIL.PG.CC.MD.US
Sun Apr 27 23:13:23 EST 1997

The term is confusing but pollenizer is an important concept in fruit
production so you would find it in plant science and horticulture texts.
Many fruit trees cultivars, e.g. most apples, are self-unfruitful, meaning
they cannot produce fruit via self-pollination, which is all that occurs
if all the trees are the same clone. Fruit growers plant a few trees of
another cultivar as a pollenizer. Male plants as pollenizers are also
required for dioecious dates, kiwi, and pistachio. If a homeowner wants
holly or bittersweet fruit or yew seeds, they need a female plant plus a
male plant nearby to act as a pollenizer or pollen source. Plant catalogs
often use incorrect terminology by offering to sell you a male plant as a

Pollenizer is a good example of a relevant concept that probably should 
be in intro. botany texts.

David R. Hershey

Snail mail: 6700 Belcrest Road #112, Hyattsville, MD 20782-1340

Adjunct Professor, Biology/Horticulture Dept.
Prince George's Community College, Largo, MD 20772-2199

Email: dh321 at


On 27 Apr 1997, Doug Jensen wrote:

> [big snip]
> Pollinator (pollen transfer agent) and pollenizer (plant that
> provides pollen) are so close that they are usually confused. I
> tell students to associate the "t" in pollinator with transfer to
> tell them apart. 
> [big snip]
> I've never heard the term pollenizer, and a quick look through Raven et al. and 
> Moore et al. did not turn it up.  You can put this in your list of excess words, 
> IMHO.  However, I find many of the others in the original list acceptable if 
> presented to the student with a context that makes them meaningful.
> We should not be teaching or not teaching terminology to our students without 
> attaching some utility to them.  It is not useful for me to require my students 
> to know the difference between monoecious and dioecious unless I can attach a 
> meaning to the terms.   Some of the meanings may be quick and simple:  cycads 
> are dioec, conifers are monoec, and angiosperms have mostly perfect flowers.  
> Other meanings can be more profound, as a discussion of the evolutionary 
> implications of each of these traits.
> I have fun with terminology and I love to point its flaws to my classes.  For 
> example I might teach about monoecy and dioecy, then I might describe 
> polygamodioecy and geitenogamy (not related, but a favorite term of mine).  I 
> will laughingly tell my class these words and say they are not required to know 
> them.  This lets them know that (1) I agree there is an overabundance of terms 
> in botany, (2) I'm a relatively nice guy--other instructors would have them 
> learn EVERYTHING, and (3) some of these excess terms may be useful at times.
> Doug Jensen
> Berea College
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