Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Growing a Texas Mountain Laurel in Pennsylvania
May 20, 2012 - Can I grow a Texas Mt. Laurel in Lancaster, PA?
view the full question and answer

Mosaic virus in Poke Salad in East Texas
April 20, 2008 - I live in a rural East Texas, and have an abundance of Poke Salad. If you know how to prepare it, it's a springtime treat for anyone who enjoys veggies. However, for the last few years, many of the o...
view the full question and answer

Palm tip wound in Sacramento CA
June 25, 2009 - My husband was stuck in his calf with a palm leaf, he is now complaining of stiffness where it went in, is there any kind of poison in it?
view the full question and answer

Is Desert willow poisonous to horses in Boerne TX
July 17, 2009 - I have just purchased Bubba Desert Willows and have horses. Will they eat them, do you know and if so will they be harmed? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Comment on poisonous sweet pea plant from Kalama WA
October 29, 2011 - No question, comment only. I am aware of the story of Christopher McCandless (Call of the Wild)and the belief that he was poisoned by ingesting part of the sweet pea plant; however I am curious what ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.