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

Do palm trees put off a toxic smoke when burnt?
December 09, 2008 - do palm trees put off a toxic smoke when burnt
view the full question and answer

Landscaping trees and shrubs non-toxic to dogs from Monticello FL
March 08, 2013 - We're landscaping and need advice on large and small evergreen trees and shrubs that are native to or will flourish in North Florida. We plan to put in a treeline (large and semi-large trees) as wel...
view the full question and answer

Is the Texas buckeye as poisonous as the Ohio buckeye from Carrollton TX
April 10, 2011 - Is the Texas buckeye as poisonous as Ohio Buckeye?
view the full question and answer

Plant-related skin rashes from Round Rock TX
September 23, 2013 - I have been plagued with persistent skin rashes this summer, and it is happening with plants that have never bothered me before, for example, red yucca. The dermatologist says it is a plant reaction,...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub with red berries in Tennessee
January 24, 2014 - Hello, I've got a shrub in my backyard; it has leaves off in groups of 3 and it has multiple reddish berries in groups by the dozens. I'm not sure what plant it is. The shrub is stick-like and appr...
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