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

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

Desmanthus and Chamaecrista seeds
June 05, 2005 - Hello my wildflower specialist friend. I got 20 Desmanthus illinoensis and also Chamaecrista fasciculata seeds. Then I planted them in early March, when there was still frost, in clayish soil, not far...
view the full question and answer

Identification of seedlings
December 20, 2014 - So..last spring I spread out a bag of random Texas wildflower seed I bought at Home Depot. Bautiful things happened. Since that time I've collected seeds while out camping etc and just been chunking ...
view the full question and answer

The most common wildflower in the United States
July 29, 2014 - What is the most common wildflower in the United States?
view the full question and answer

Are Texas wildflowers dying out from Portland, TX
January 27, 2011 - I am doing a school project on whether or not wildflowers are dying out in the state of Texas or not. I need to find a specialist who specializes on this subject. Could you help me??? Please contac...
view the full question and answer

Possible identification of Stemless Evening Primrose
March 07, 2007 - Recently, in a very dry area, some interesting plants have emerged. The plant looks like a very short dandelion but the yellow flowers look like yellow morning glories. The flowers are open in the m...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center