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
1 rating

Wednesday - January 28, 2009

From: Elgin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Will a barrier hedge of Agarita cause any problems for horses and cattle?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

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 between myself and my neighbors cluttered property and their constantly barking dogs. I will keep my livestock in the back pasture for several years to give the shrubs time to grow. Do you know if the livestock eat on these shrubs? The hedge will be approx 350' long. I will run a small water line from the barn and put in drip to each shrub for the first year or two to get them established. I like the thought of a bramble like hedge but am open to other possibilities that will tolerate the high windy, sunny conditions of my prairie property. I haven't decided whether I want to plant one or two rows yet. Any advice and help will be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:

Since this is the Wildflower Center, Mr. Smarty Plants will address the plant part of the question first.

Agarita Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) is a good choice for your barrier hedge. It can reach up to 8 ft. tall in favorable conditions, and its rigid branches can form thickets. This along with its spine tipped leaves should give you the bramble hedge you desire. An added bonus is the numerous red berries that attract birds. Because of its spiny leaves, Agarita is not a preferred broswing plant for livestock, and it is generally avoided if more preferred food is available.

Another choice that can form dense growth is Wax Myrtle Morella cerifera (wax myrtle). It is not prickly like Agarita, but is a fast growing, widely used screening plant with fragrant leaves and blue berries.

A third choice that is not as prickly as Agarita, but can be  denser than Wax Myrtle is Eastern Redcedar Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar). This evergreen usually reaches a height of 30 - 40 ft. but can be pruned to form a hedge. There are dwarf varieties available that would make this easier. Contact UConn Plant Database or North Carolina State University.

As to the question of toxicity, I've included links to five database on toxic plants.

 Texas Toxic Plant Database

 ASPCA

Equisearch.com 

Cornell University's Plants Poisonous to Livestock and other Animals 

Poisonous Plants of the Southern United States

Please note that the absence of the names of these plants from these lists does not guarantee that it is non-toxic to horses, but not finding it on the lists makes it less likely to be toxic. To search the lists, I recommend using the scientific name since those names are generally standard, whereas the common names often vary in spelling and usage.

 


Mahonia trifoliolata

Mahonia trifoliolata

Morella cerifera

Juniperus virginiana
 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Is Thalia dealbata toxic to dogs?
May 16, 2011 - A pond in a park frequented by dogs contains Thalia dealbata and I have seen numerous dogs eating the roots with relish, which we discourage, of course. They seem to really enjoy it though. Aft...
view the full question and answer

Petals of flowers on cake from London
August 28, 2010 - Hi could you please confirm whether it is safe to position an amaryllis on top of a fresh cream cake (it will not be eaten, nor will the stem touch the cream, it will be positioned in a non toxic vial...
view the full question and answer

Dog Friendly Privacy Hedge for Long Island
April 14, 2013 - Can you please advise me of some plants for a privacy hedge that are non-toxic to dogs and that would thrive on Long Island, NY? I am looking for a hedge to grow to about 6-8 ft.
view the full question and answer

Safe grazing for donkeys and goats from Osteen FL
June 30, 2012 - I am having a very difficult time trying to find shrubs, hedges, plants, flowers, or trees etc. that are safe for donkeys and goats. We live in Zone 9 and have a small farm. I've had to pull every ...
view the full question and answer

What caused bump after walk in woods from Ontario
July 25, 2011 - I recently went for a walk in the woods near a stream. When I got to the river my leg had a little bump. It wasn't itching. I got home, it swelled even bigger. Can you tell me what plant I bumped int...
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