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

Friday - August 22, 2008

From: McDade, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Plants referred to as Hummingbird plants
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a a plant that is sometimes called a Hummingbird Plant, sometimes a Firecracker plant. I have also seen the name lonicera sempervirens. Are they poisonous? This is a plant, not a vine. Thank you, Marianne

ANSWER:

Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle) is an evergreen, perennial vine. It attracts hummingbirds, and can be invasive if not kept under control. There is no evidence to indicate that any part of that plant is poisonous, and it is native to North America.

The problem with common names, as opposed to the botanical names, for plants is that you can call a plant anything you want to, and it will mean something else to the next person. There is a plant called Firecracker Plant, Russelia equisetiformis (University of Florida Extension). Another common name for it is Coral Plant. It is a cascading, loose-growing plant, and is not native to North America but to the tropical Americas and Mexico. It is hardy from Zones 9a to 11. Again, no indications of being poisonous.

A plant commonly referred to as "Hummingbird plant" is Dicliptera suberecta (Missouri Botanical Gardens), native to Central and South America. It is hardy in Zones 7a to 11. Still not poisonous, and non-native to North America.

A native to North America, Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed), is a perennial which is a larval host and/or nectar source for Monarch and Queen butterflies. All parts of this plant ARE poisonous.  The butterfly larvae, or caterpillars, are unaffected by the cardiac glycosides produced by the plant, but the butterfly stores the substance, making them distasteful and even dangerous to predators.

In case you are considering planting one of these, McDade, in northern Bastrop County, is about Zones 7b to 8a. The only one of these plants that might not be hardy in your area is  Russelia equisetiformis.

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Non-Toxic Flowering Vine for Sunny Trellis in California
March 12, 2015 - I am looking for a flowering trellis plant that is non-toxic to my dog, will grow in the California area that I live in, and will be in full sun.
view the full question and answer

Toxicity of Lupinus ssp. (bluebonnets)
June 25, 2007 - Are bluebonnets toxic to cattle?
view the full question and answer

Will a barrier hedge of Agarita cause any problems for horses and cattle?
January 28, 2009 - Will planting a hedge of Agarita (Mahonia trifoliolata) at the fence line in my blackland prairie pasture cause any problems for my horses and cattle. I am trying to create a sound and sight barrier ...
view the full question and answer

Is hopseed bush poisonous to horses in San Diego
October 26, 2009 - I need to plant a hedge to block unwanted neighbors and shield the horse corral from the house. I love the hopseed bush for its growing habits and color, especially the purple hopseed. I need to know ...
view the full question and answer

Is Fern-like Plant with White Flower Poison Hemlock?
May 06, 2014 - I have a fern-like plant which produces white flowers that uncurl from the stem as the plant starts to grow. Is this poison hemlock?
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center