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

Information on non-native Erythrinia crista-galli
April 30, 2008 - I am trying to find out some more information on a plant called firemen caps.. How to grow and sun or shade or both..
view the full question and answer

Identification of bushes with red berries in Tennessee
January 31, 2012 - I was recently traveling thru Clarksville, TN and saw these bushes (at the shopping mall) that had clusters of small red berries on them. They were not a Holly that I know of. The leaves were not th...
view the full question and answer

Removal and disposal of very invasive non-native water hyacinth
September 07, 2007 - I was given some Eichhornia crassipes, don't know how to care for them. Do you put them in some potting soil then put the pot in water? When do they bloom? Can they stay in the water during winter in...
view the full question and answer

Esperanza turning brown in McGregor TX
May 05, 2010 - Why are my Esperanza turning brown?
view the full question and answer

Pruning Cuphea Plants
February 04, 2013 - The David Verity cuphea (cigar plants) that I planted last spring are now 3-4 feet high. I would like to move them, but before I do they seem to need pruning. All the branches are brown and dry lookin...
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