Pollination in Fruit Trees

Pollination is the transfer of pollen grains from the male part of a blossom to the female part of a blossom. Fertilization occurs within the ovary when a sperm cell from a pollen grain unites with an egg to produce an embryo which then develops into a seed. After fertilization, the ovary that contains the seed(s) develops into a fruit. Without pollination, fruit production could be sparse to none.

Busy bee on an almond blossom A pollinator carries the pollen from the male stamen to the female pistil. Even if the stamens and the pistil are within the same blossom, a pollinator is still needed to complete the transfer. Some pollinators can be insects, bats, hummingbirds, or even the wind. Many plants have flowers that require specific pollinators. For example, almond trees depend entirely on honey bees for pollination, and cherry trees are also semi-dependent on honey bees.

Some kinds of plants have blossoms that are incompatible with their own pollen and must be cross-pollinated with another closely related variety (in some cases, another individual of the same variety). For example, most apple varieties must be pollinated by a different variety if fertilization (and fruit development) is to occur. Perfect Plants has several varieties of apple trees that will cross pollinate with each other here.

Persimmon tree with male flowers on the right (notice the stamens inside) and female flowers that just started fruiting on the left. Persimmon blossoms are either male or female, and a pollinator is required to transfer pollen from the male to the female. The plant that donates pollen to another plant is called the pollenizer.

Note that the fruit that develops after cross-pollinating will always be of the variety that received the pollen, and not similar to the plant that donated the pollen.

In contrast, the seeds within the fruits that develop from cross pollination will be hybrids between the two parents and will likely germinate to produce plants with characteristics that are intermediate between the two parents, or different from both. For example, if a ‘Red Delicious’ apple is pollinated by a ‘Granny Smith’ apple, the fruits will all be ‘Red Delicious’, but the seeds within those fruits will produce apple trees with different, and often unpredictable characteristics. Of course, pollination works both ways. While the bees are carrying pollen from the ‘Granny Smith’ to the ‘Red Delicious’, they are also moving pollen from the ‘Red Delicious’ to the ‘Granny Smith’

Pollination Charts

The following fruit tree pollination charts provide examples of which variety will best pollinate the fruit tree of your choosing. Although some varieties are self-pollinating fruit trees, having a pollination match will ensure that your tree produces the best fruit.

Apple Tree Pollination Chart

Pear Tree Pollination Chart

Plum Tree Pollination Chart

Pollination Requirements of Some Cultivated Fruit Trees

FRUIT TREE POLLENIZER REQUIRED POLLINATORS
Pecan yes the wind
Apple most varieties insects, especially honeybees
Olive some varieties various insects
Fig no none required
Peach some varieties various insects
Pear yes insects, especially honeybees
Banana no none required
Persimmon yes, a male tree insects, especially honeybees
Plum most insects, especially honeybees
Pomegranate no insects, especially honeybees

We have 2 other blogs with valuable information about pollination listed below…

It Takes Two to Tango (Except When it Doesn’t)

Flowers: Sex, Pollinators and Pollinizers

Perfect Plants does have several varieties of fruit trees that are self-pollinating and produce fruit without a second tree to pollinate the flowers.

Please reach out to us with any questions you may have about cross-pollinating your fruit trees. We would be happy to help!