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

Narrow, evergreen shrub for privacy
December 28, 2008 - I live in San Antonio and my backyard is all driveway except for a 2-3' space in front of a 6 ft chain fence. I'd like to find an evergreen narrow shrub for privacy. Would Nandina be a good choice?...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Podocarpus macrophyllus in Ft Worth TX
November 12, 2011 - I know this question does not pertain to a native plant but I've spent too much time not finding an answer to my question. I have many mature Podocarpus macrophyllus bushes at my house I purchased in...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs for foundation plants
June 02, 2010 - Can you recommend any evergreen shrubs that would work as foundation plants in front of windows, so preferably below 4' tall? I would love a native plant, and of course anything for the birds and be...
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep bank in Pennsylvania
July 12, 2011 - What do I do with a very steep bank with hard clay soil to stop erosion and to look nice. Is there a ground cover that would help?
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for plants for a bird/small wildlife refuge in Wichita Co, TX.
August 26, 2011 - With our continuing drought in North Texas, I'm planning to transform my small backyard into a bird/small wildlife "refuge". What types of native plants and grasses can I plant in dry, hot Wichita ...
view the full question and answer

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