Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
11 ratings

Tuesday - April 22, 2008

From: Paisley, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Identification of shrub with red berries in Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I purchased a plant/shrub at a yard sale in central Fl. They told me it was a native plant. It looks like a holly with the red berries but the leaves are not like a holly. They were all over the yard so I am not for sure if they were started by clipping or by the berries. The gentleman that lived there had passed away, but his son-in-law said he had heard them refer to it as a "china berry". My question is it poisonous to animals or humans. Thanks

ANSWER:

From your description of the shrub that you bought, it doesn't sound like what I know as chinaberry (Melia azederach). Chinaberry is an invasive, non-native tree introduced from Asia. It is listed as poisonous in the Texas Toxic Plant database, especially the yellow berries.

The chinaberry, however, doesn't fit the description of the shrub/tree you bought. Here are a few native Florida shrubs/trees with red berries that might be your shrub. If you find your shrub below, you can check the following links to see if it is poisonous: Texas Toxic Plants, Cornell University Poisonous Plants Informational Database, Poisonous Plants of the Southern United States and Poisonous Plants of North Carolina. If you don't find your shrub among those listed below, please send us a photo and we will do our best to identify it. For information on sending photos, please visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page and read the instructions in the lower right corner under "Plant Identification".

Ilex ambigua (Carolina holly)

Ilex cassine (dahoon), click here for a photo and more information.

Ilex decidua (possumhaw)

Ilex myrtifolia (myrtle dahoon)

Ilex verticillata (common winterberry)

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

Amelanchier arborea (common serviceberry), click here for photos and more information.

Photinia pyrifolia (red chokeberry)

Crataegus crus-galli (cockspur hawthorn), click here for photos and more information.

Crataegus marshallii (parsley hawthorn)

Crataegus phaenopyrum (Washington hawthorn)

Crataegus spathulata (littlehip hawthorn), click here for a photo and more information.

Crataegus viridis (green hawthorn)

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)

Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)

Frangula caroliniana (Carolina buckthorn)


Ilex ambigua

Ilex decidua

Ilex myrtifolia

Ilex verticillata

Ilex vomitoria

Photinia pyrifolia

Crataegus marshallii

Crataegus phaenopyrum

Crataegus viridis

Rhus aromatica

Cornus florida

Frangula caroliniana

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Low-Maintenance Hedge for Massachusetts
February 17, 2014 - I want to put in a native low-maintenance hedge in a sunny spot with plants that can take dry soil. I would like the plants to grow to less than 4 feet wide. It can be an informal hedge, but I don't ...
view the full question and answer

Limp leaves on Texas purple sage in Magnolia TX
July 22, 2010 - Recently planted Texas purple sage, some of it looks healthy and has new blooms, but a few of the plants have limp leaves and are thin at the bottom. I read the article on cotton root rot, but am not ...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for erosion from Austin
May 03, 2014 - I live in Austin and my house backs up to Shoal Creek. I am looking for a native creeping vine or something that will grow on the shaded bank to help prevent erosion. It should be able to tolerate the...
view the full question and answer

Dwarf, Evergreen Shrub Suggestions for Staten Island
August 14, 2013 - I had two rows of bushes in the front of my house. The back row of bushes is what is commonly known as a hedge. Unfortunately due to Sandy I lost the front row of bushes. Please help me, I am in conta...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Lorapetalum chinense from Driftwood TX
March 16, 2012 - In a previous response you said that it would not be wise to plant any trees with the word Chinese in it. Does this apply to Lorapetalum (Chinese Fringe Flower)? I would like to use this plant as a ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.