En Español

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
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

Water requirements for fruit trees in California
January 15, 2013 - Dear Sir; In which of these options (fruit trees) the need for watering in irrigation process is higher than the others: -Olive tree -Nectarines and peaches trees -Hazelnut trees -Pistachios and ...
view the full question and answer

Removing a non-native windmill palm from Austin
February 27, 2013 - I have a fairly good size windmill palm (about 15ft high) that is planted too close to the house. I also don't like having to constantly remove its fronds as they block a walkway. Is there a good wa...
view the full question and answer

Pruning of non-native Senna bicapsularis from Ocean Springs MS
April 04, 2013 - I have 4 Senna plants (cassia bicapsularis) that I planted late last spring. They about 3-4 feet tall but are very gangly with leaves at or near the tips only. How should I prune them to encourage g...
view the full question and answer

Replacing non-native iceplant in El Cajon CA
June 11, 2010 - Help! We are clearing fungus dead iceplant on a massive steep bank. Should I avoid replacing it with more iceplant? Would myaporum prostrate be a better option? Fast growing, erosion resistant, zero m...
view the full question and answer

Camellia seeds
September 21, 2008 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants; I have a Camellia plant that has bulbs that look like they could be fruit. And when this bulb opened, four or five little nuts came out. Are they fruit or nuts and can they be e...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center