En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - January 16, 2005

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Identification of native blackhaw or non-native ligustrum in Austin
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a native tree in my yard, ca.15-20 feet tall, that has glossy, rounded dark leaves and small clusters of dark purplish berries. (It also has very weak limbs - perhaps grows too fast for its own good? - and consistently loses limbs in big storms). Recently a huge flock of cedar waxwings descended on this tree and munched up the berries, and it made me curious - is there any way of telling what it is without a picture? i don't have a digital camera. I haven't seen other birds like mockingbirds or woodpeckers show particular interest in the berries, but woodpeckers and wrens both like the bark for insects.

ANSWER:

Two possibilities come to mind for your plant—one of the native blackhaws (Viburnum sp.) or one of the non-native privets (Ligustrum sp). The leaves of smooth blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium) and of the rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum) both have serrated, or toothed, edges. The Japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum), one of the common ligustrums found in Austin, has leaves with smooth edges. You can see more pictures for comparison of the Japanese privet and of the rusty blackhaw in the Archive of Central Texas Plants from the University of Texas School of Biological Sciences.

The berries of all the ligustrums are listed in the North Carolina State University's Poisonous Plants of North Carolina database as being extremely poisonous to humans. Apparently they are not poisonous to birds since cedar waxwings and other birds seem to consume them with great gusto and in large amounts without harm.
 

More Non-Natives Questions

Native plants of Rome
February 22, 2009 - I am researching the native plants of Rome but I can't get anything get anything else besides olives. Can you help me to find some more?
view the full question and answer

Will non-native Star Jasmine survive outside in winter in Ohio
October 27, 2008 - Hi! I have two Star Jasmine in pots (we brought them back to southern Ohio from CA this year). Should we bring them inside for the winter? Would they do okay outside next winter if we plant them in...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native parsley from Brooklyn NY
June 17, 2012 - Had beautiful flat leaf parsley plants recently turn yellow & die. Found black armadillo like bugs bored throughout the roots. Now they're spreading. How do I kill them without contaminating the pla...
view the full question and answer

Sturdiness of non- native poisonous oleanders
August 16, 2011 - We've seen a dozen different types of non-native plants in our yard perish in last winter's brutal freezes and this summer's record drought..which is good..except for the Oleanders, which nature ca...
view the full question and answer

Use of non-native Indian Mustard for reducing lead in soil
February 07, 2007 - The EPA phytoremediation documents say lead contamination can be reduced with Brassica juncea: "Successful Reduction of Lead Contamination. Phytoextraction was demonstrated at a site in Tren...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center