En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - January 24, 2014

From: Gallatin, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification, Poisonous Plants
Title: Identification of shrub with red berries in Tennessee
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Hello, I've got a shrub in my backyard; it has leaves off in groups of 3 and it has multiple reddish berries in groups by the dozens. I'm not sure what plant it is. The shrub is stick-like and approximately four feet high. I've got pictures of the shrub and would like for you to see them. I've got dogs and want to make sure the plant isn't poisonous. Thank you for your time.


Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac) fits your description—if you are saying that it has leaves in groups of three, but they are not on the shrub now.   It would be most unusual for the fragrant sumac to have leaves in the winter.  A few might persist, but in general they are a deciduous shrub.  If your shrub is fragrant sumac, it is NOT listed as toxic on the ASPCA Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List – Dogs nor any other poisonous plant database that I consulted.

If fragrant sumac is NOT your plant, then I suggest that you look through the native shrubs for Tennessee by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH on our Native Plant Database, choosing "Tennessee" under Select State or Province and "Shrub" under Habit (general appearance).   This will give you a list of 151 shrubs that are native to Tennessee.   If your shrub is not a native plant, however, it won't appear in our Native Plant Database.   In that case, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.


From the Image Gallery

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

More Plant Identification Questions

April 06, 2012 - I was driving around Llano, Texas and saw patches of orange amongst the wildflowers. From afar the patches seemed like dying plants. On close inspection, they are orange tendrils that are overrunnin...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification, possibly Datura
September 07, 2007 - I have a wide green-leafed plant that has white flowers. This plant also has some thorny fruits in the shape of mines that float on the ocean. At the moment it is 2 feet high. I'm beginning to wo...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 10, 2014 - I am trying to identify a wildflower that has popped up after a big rain. It is under a foot tall---blooms a yellow bloom in the evenings. It has long narrow leaves sort of like a rosemary. It grows f...
view the full question and answer

Dodder, rootless, leafless, parisitic twining plants
May 29, 2006 - Hello, I have been studying wildflowers in California for many years. Yesterday I came across a surprise and I am thus far unable to identify it. As it is raining today, I cannot get a photo, but I...
view the full question and answer

How common is white blooming Mountain Laurel
April 01, 2003 - Is white blooming Mountain Laurel common?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center