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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - October 21, 2008

From: Folsom, NJ
Region: Northeast
Topic: Medicinal Plants
Title: Yucca plant for horse joint problems
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

is the yucca plant the same as what the joint medication is made of to give to older horses for the joints, and if so, can a plant be nibbled on when it grows in the pasture?

ANSWER:

The information I have been able to find indicates that the effective compounds in yucca that aid in relieving inflamatory problems in horses (and pets, in general) are steroidal saponins.  It is used orally and topically and apparently was used by native Americans.  However, I could find no indication of what species they are using, nor how they extract the saponins from the yucca. Your best bet for finding out the species of yucca used for the supplement is to contact one of the makers of the medication and ask them which species.  Better yet, why not contact your veterinarian to ask about the efficacy of these supplements.  

Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle) is apparently the only yucca that grows in New Jersey.  Whether your horse will nibble on it in the pasture is something Mr. Smarty Plants doesn't know.  Certainly deer like the blossoms of the yucca plants, but I've never seen them actually nibble on the leaves.  It should be safe to do so, however, since none of the yuccas appear in any of Mr. Smarty Plants' favorite toxic plant databases listed below.

Universtiy of Pennsylvania's Poisonous Plants Database, Poisonous Plants of North Carolina, Cornell University's Plants Poisonous to Livestock and other Animals, Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System and Texas Toxic Plant Database.

Additionally, here are several databases that list plants, native and otherwise, that should not be included in areas with horses: 

10 Most Poisonous Plants for Horses from EquiSearch.com

Poisonous Plants from Trailblazer Magazine

Toxic Plants:  Horses from the ASPCA

Horse Nutrition:  Poisonous Plants from Ohio State University

 

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