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
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

Thursday - February 17, 2005

From: Newberry, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: More on bluebonnets
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We live on a farm and have recently had a cow that was deathly sick, then finally got better. We also had a couple of calving problems with the cows. I was reading about how toxic tailcup lupine is to animals and wondered if it occurs in South Carolina? I am almost sure I've seen this flower here before. I thought it had a beautiful purple flower on it. Could this be it?

ANSWER:

Tailcup Lupine, or Kellog's spurred lupine, (Lupinus caudatus), a western US species, does not occur in South Carolina.  There are three lupine species that occur in South Carolina, but only two occur in your area: Sky-blue Lupine (L. diffusus) and Sundial Lupine (L. perennis).  However, it is unlikely your cattle were poisoned by ingesting lupines.  Cattle, and nearly all other grazing animals for that matter, find lupines very unpalatable and will only eat them in severely overgrazed situations where there is nothing else to eat.   Central Texas is known for its bluebonnets largely because our lupines take advantage of the fact that cattle won't eat them and graze out most of their competition.

The most common cause of cattle poisoning in your area is probably wilted cherry foliage.  Cherries, especially choke cherry (Prunus virginiana), commonly occur in fence rows.  Landowners clear their fence rows and sometimes leave some of the cherry limbs behind.  As the foliage dies, cyanide forms in the wilting leaves.  Cows come along and consume the foliage (they find cherry foliage very tasty) and get sick and often die.  Here is a link to a helpful site at Clemson University.  Purdue University in Indiana and Cornell University in New York both have databases listing plants poisonous to livestock and pets. Your veterinarian should be able to better diagnose the cause of the poisoning, or help you identify potential problems on your land.  
 

More Wildflowers Questions

Grow bluebonnets in Virginia
September 04, 2007 - I want to ATTEMPT to grow some Texas Bluebonnets in VA because I am homesick and both our kids are back in Austin. That said, the site says " it may be necessary to inoculate the soil with a rhizobiu...
view the full question and answer

When to plant wildflowers in California
December 10, 2013 - When is the best time to plant wildflowers in California?
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnet prospects for 2009 in Central Texas
January 31, 2009 - How does the bluebonnet season look for 2009 in Central Texas (Austin). Will it be a good year and when will it start and when will it peak? Thanks for all you do!!!
view the full question and answer

Native xeric grasses for Colorado
June 24, 2010 - Tired of mowing - replacing western exposure full sun lawn with native xeric grass. Please explain the pros and cons of Bouteloua Gracilis (Blue Grama) and Bouteloua Dactyloides Bella (Bella Blue Gra...
view the full question and answer

Fertilizing hayfield with wildflowers in Brenham TX
September 20, 2010 - I have property near Brenham, TX that produces wild bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush and other wildflowers each year. I would like to fertilize the pastures to help with hay production (the grass is ha...
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