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
4 ratings

Monday - July 28, 2008

From: Baird, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Shrubs
Title: Getting rid of wild plums (Prunus angustifolia)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

When I bought my land, there was a humongous thicket of wild plums (Prunus angustifolia) approx 10 ft high and covering 5-10 acres. I raise goats, and have known that wild plums (the leaves) can cause prussic acid poisoning (and read something about cyanide poisoning?) in ruminates and I do not want them on my property. We removed the thicket but it is coming back up just as fast as I can shred it down. Is there anything I can do to discourage them from growing?

ANSWER:

You are correct that plants in the Genus Prunus (includes wild plums, cherries and peaches) are toxic to livestock and, in particular, ruminants.  It is cyanide poisoning that is the problem and cyanide poisoning can kill quickly—within 15 minutes.  Ruminants are particularly susceptible because the release of cyanide from the cyanogenic glycosides that reside in the seed and leaves of Prunus plants occurs more easliy in their stomachs compared to the acidic environment of non-ruminant stomachs. Here is information from the Texas Toxic Plant Database and University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants Database.

You do want to be certain that the plum trees aren't in the pasture with your goats.  Either you need to fence the goats out of that area—good luck with that since goats are notoriously difficult to discourage by mere fencing—or you need to remove the roots of the trees from the ground to keep them from resprouting.  As long as there are still roots there, they will continue to sprout. Five to ten acres-worth is going to be a lot of work if you do it by hand so probably your best bet is to find someone who can dig up the roots mechanically (e.g., backhoe or skid steer).  

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Want a vine, non-toxic to dogs, for Reno, NV.
September 11, 2012 - I want a non toxic (to dogs) vine for Reno, NV
view the full question and answer

What purple mushrooms grow in Texas from McKinney TX
July 14, 2012 - What purple mushrooms grow in North Texas?
view the full question and answer

Damaged leaves on bottlebrush buckeye from Glen Mills PA
June 09, 2013 - My recently planted bottlebrush buckeye plants' leaves are looking damaged but it doesn't look like insect or fungus damage. They look battered by wind but I don't understand why that would happen...
view the full question and answer

Campsis radicans or cow itch
April 03, 2008 - We cleaned my father-in-law's home-place up out in the country week-before-last. My wife, her 2 sisters and a niece have this unusual-looking poison on them. It is big red places and itches all ove...
view the full question and answer

Skin irritation caused by blanket flower (Gaillardia sp.)
January 29, 2005 - Could you tell me whether it is the leaves or the spent flower heads, the seed heads, that cause irritation to bare legs after walking through a field of Indian Blankets? Gallardia I believe is the La...
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