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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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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - May 07, 2008

From: Cassadaga, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Lantana poisonous to people, animals
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, I read your response to the woman with the cow eating her plants over her neighbors fence. Just so you know- Lantana is poisionous. To humans and cattle. You recommended it as a plant she could use there, but I routinely check my pasture for beautyberry, and lantana because there are many toxic plants that are native to our area. Watch kids carefully when outside and warn them NEVER to eat a berry they find in the wild unless an adult says it's OK. Most berries are the most toxic part of a plant.

ANSWER:

You are absolutely right, and we were remiss in placing that plant in our proposed planting. In our defense, we recommended that everything be out of reach of the cows, because they would eat anything. However, we made no cautions about children in the area. Lantana is very widely used and recommended, even thought it not only has toxic parts, but has become invasive in some parts of the country, including Florida. Unfortunately, many plants have toxic parts, probably part of their defense mechanisms to stay alive and propagate the species. Your point that children should always be watched and trained to put nothing in their mouths that is not pre-approved is the most valuable comment you made. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
 

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