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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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Sunday - December 07, 2008

From: Rosharon, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Legality of using Chinese tallow seeds for Christmas decorations
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

If tallow trees are on the noxious list, is it illegal to use the white berries for Christmas decorations?

ANSWER:

Triadeca sebifera, Chinese tallow, is a native to Eastern Asia, and has become an invasive threat to ecologies, particularly in the Southeast and coastal plains. It is not only invasive, crowding out desirable native plants, but is potentially harmful to humans and animals because the berries and plant sap contain toxins. There is no law of which we are aware that prohibits use of the berries as Christmas decorations. However, we would not choose to employ plant materials known to be poisonous in that way. The possibility of the berries being accessible to children or pets would far outweigh the benefits.
 

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