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?


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

Thursday - December 18, 2008

From: St. Marys, , PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Are hollies toxic?
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Can I use holly from my landscaping to decorate food at Christmas?


Mr. Smarty Plants assumes you mean our native Ilex opaca (American holly) with its beautiful red berries.  The North Carolina Poisonous Plants Database says that the berries in large quantities from Ilex opaca can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  The Canadian Poisonous Plants Informations System agrees about the toxicity of Ilex opaca and also lists the berries of the English holly, Ilex aquifolium as being toxic.  The foliage of these two hollies, apparently, is not poisonous.  So, Mr. Smarty Plants recommends that you not put any berries on plates, platters or other containers with foods.  You might decorate tables/counters with the holly, but make sure the berries aren't in place where they might be considered a food item by children and pets—or adults, for that matter.

Ilex opaca

Ilex opaca



More Trees Questions

Transplanting a native Texas Persimmon in Austin
October 18, 2008 - I have a Texas Persimmon, approx. 2.5 feet tall, growing in a 5 gal. pot. When should it be transplanted and where? How much sun? Could it grow in a larger pot for a time> Do deer like it? Thank ...
view the full question and answer

Shade trees for Spring TX
August 17, 2011 - Dear Mr.Pants, our west-facing backyard in Spring, Tx, is unbearable in this Summer's heat. Neither us nor the neighbors has any backyard trees established yet, as the subdivision is pretty new. C...
view the full question and answer

Grafting different colors of Tecoma from Casa Grand AZ
April 01, 2014 - Is it possible to graft different colors of tecoma and if yes, is the process same as process for grafting roses?
view the full question and answer

Low Water Use Plants for a Pond Island
November 06, 2014 - We have a medium sized pond/tank with a small island covered in black willows. The pond loses a lot of water and we were told it was partially due to the willows. We want to remove them and replace ...
view the full question and answer

Delay in fruiting of Mexican plum (Prunus mexicana)
July 20, 2005 - Dear experts, My wife and i are members of your fine organization. Several years ago we bought four things at a spring plant sale for an understory spot in our yard. The Possumhaw Holly, American ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center