En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
3 ratings

Thursday - September 23, 2004

From: Edmond, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Poisonous Trees
Answered by: Stephen Brueggerhoff


Are redbuds and catalpa trees poisonous?


The southern catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides) is commonly used in the southwest as a fast growing ornamental tree. However, the research that I have committed alludes to the vegetative parts of the catalpa as being poisonous. According to my research, many members of the pea family (Fabaceae) have been found to contain lectins, a carbohydrate-binding protein that may affect the intestines & prevent absorption of nutrients. Some members of the pea family are more toxic than others, depending on the species. Scooter Cheatham, in his book "The useful wild plants of Texas, the Southeastern and Southwestern United States, the Southern Plains, and Northern Mexico", states that the immature seed-pods of redbud (Cercis canadensis) can be eaten raw, cooked or boiled with no adverse effects. Conclusion: since I am not an accredited nutritionist, I can only provide you with a bit of information to supplement your research. I recommend contacting your state native plant society & determine if there is a local interest for ethnobotanical uses of your regional flora, which should lead you to credible resources that can supplement your research.

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Non-toxic Groundcover for North-Central Texas
April 07, 2011 - I need a creeping ground cover for shade that is non-toxic to dogs. I had planned on Swedish ivy until I read it was toxic. Is Asian jasmine toxic? Or, do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Is Asclepias incarnata poisonous to dogs?
June 13, 2012 - Is Asclepias incarnata safe in a farm/yard with plenty of dogs running around? What happens if a dog eats the leaves or seeds or pods? Is eating any of these fatal to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Plant ID of unknown purchased plant from Boise ID
June 24, 2012 - Hi! I bought a tree that the sales person didnt know what it was. I thought it was a cherry tree and now after about 3-4 yrs I know it is but..How do I know if it is an ornamental tree or real fruit t...
view the full question and answer

Lonicera sempervirens not harmful to dogs from Naperville IL
December 16, 2012 - Is the trumpet honeysuckle (lonicera sempervirens) harmful to dogs if eaten? I have been told in the past that the common trumpet vine is harmful, but this appears to be different. Thank you!!
view the full question and answer

Plant for privacy hedge in Oklahoma that is not poisonous to dogs
April 01, 2012 - Hello! I am looking to put a privacy hedge fence in my yard. I love the look of American Holly, however, I have a dog who eats everything so I worry that this will not be a wise choice with the b...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center