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?

Share

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - April 10, 2008

From: Rigby, ID
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Fast growing trees in Idaho
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I want to plant fast-growing trees on my property in Idaho. What trees are poisonous to horses and dogs? I am particularly interested in the Royal Empress (Paulowmia) tree and the dogwood tree.

ANSWER:

We don't like to start out with discouraging words, but Paulownia tomentosa is NOT a good choice. We have been asked about it several times, and would like for you to read a previous answer from Mr. Smarty Plants on the subject. Next, read this site from the Plant Conservation Alliance "Least Wanted" List. It appears that some have already escaped cultivation and invaded Idaho; but, under the circumstances, we certainly hope you do not contribute to the problem. The tree is a native of China and, as such, is not normally in the purview of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Our focus and concentration is on plants native to North America; however, we are very interested in invasive plants, especially non-native invasives.

Now, on to the dogwoods, genus Cornus. We found fourteen species of Cornus on our Native Plant Database, of which four can apparently be grown in Idaho.

Cornus canadensis (bunchberry dogwood) This is really a low-growing groundcover type of bush, probably not what you had in mind.

Cornus nuttallii (Pacific dogwood) This USDA Plants Profile shows the areas in Idaho where this species is growing naturally. It is a deciduous tree up to 40 feet tall that does best between 3000 and 8000 feet in altitude. Unfortunately, it is very susceptible to dogwood anthracnose, which has killed many larger plants in the wild and also restricts its use as an ornamental tree.

Cornus sericea (redosier dogwood) Both of these sericea dogwoods are recommended for Idaho, and are useful for erosion control.

Cornus sericea ssp. sericea (redosier dogwood)

Since none of these seem to be the perfect choice, how about some alternatives? First, for the Empress Tree. We went to our Invasives website and found four alternatives to this tree; unfortunately, none of them are recommended for Idaho. So, we went shopping in the Recommended Species for Idaho section and have four tree suggestions. We realize that you wanted fast-growing, blooming trees, but it may be that is not going to happen in Idaho.

Acer grandidentatum (bigtooth maple)

Betula occidentalis (water birch)

Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine)

Prunus virginiana (chokecherry)

And, finally, your question about what trees are poisonous to horses and dogs. Rather than reproduce the list, let us refer you to this Poisonous Plants Informational Database from Cornell University.


Cornus canadensis

Cornus nuttallii

Cornus sericea

Cornus sericea ssp. sericea

Acer grandidentatum

Betula occidentalis

Pinus contorta

Prunus virginiana

 

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Wild plums for jelly from Conroe TX
December 18, 2012 - Do wild plum trees grow in my area? I want to get some next summer to make plum jelly.
view the full question and answer

Is non-native mascagnia macroptera poisonous to animals from Hockley TX
February 17, 2014 - Is Mascagmia macroptra (Butterfly Vine) poisonous to animals (horses and dogs)?
view the full question and answer

Will Calycanthus floridus (Eastern sweetshrub) grow near black walnut trees?
April 01, 2012 - Will Calycanthus floridus survive if planted near Black Walnut trees? If not, can you recommend a similar bush that will?
view the full question and answer

Petals of flowers on cake from London
August 28, 2010 - Hi could you please confirm whether it is safe to position an amaryllis on top of a fresh cream cake (it will not be eaten, nor will the stem touch the cream, it will be positioned in a non toxic vial...
view the full question and answer

Beautyberries not poisonous to cats and dogs from Haddonfield NJ
December 11, 2012 - Are beauty berry plants poisonous to cats/dogs? Would like to use branches w/berries and leaves as indoor decorations.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center