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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.

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Wednesday - October 27, 2004

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Smarty Plants on Poisonous Plants
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I wonder who among the wonderful staff at the Wildflower Center can answer this. I occasionally get requests for information on toxic or irritating plants. Beyond the obvious ones like poison ivy that everyone knows, what's there to look out for in Texas?

ANSWER:

The newly published book:
Hart, Charles R. et al. 2004. Toxic Plants of Texas: integrated management strategies to prevent livestock losses. Created by Texas Cooperative Extension. College Station: Texas A&M University Press.
is an excellent source for poisonous agricultural plants, but you are right that it doesn't list several plants irritating to humans that aren't potentially deadly to livestock. University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service has a database of Poisonous Plants of the Southern United States and Colorado State University has a Guide to Poisonous Plants which both would more closely match our region than the Cornell University Poisonous Plants Informational Database. However, neither lists the "irritating" plants other than poison ivy.
Shinner's and Mahler's Flora of North Central Texas (Diggs, George M. et al. 1999. Shinners&Mahler's Flora of North Central Texas. Fort Worth: Botanical Research Institute of Texas) gives information about the toxicity of plants in the North Central area of Texas, including Tragia (noseburn), Cnidoscolus (bull nettle/mala mujer), or Toxicodendron (poison ivy)
 

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