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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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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!

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Tuesday - February 24, 2009

From: Conroe, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Ferns
Title: Are philodendrons, variegated ginger, sword ferns and palms toxic to horses?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Are philodendrons, variegated ginger, sword ferns and palms toxic to horses?

ANSWER:

Several of the plants you mention are non-native species, and therefore are out of the realm of expertise of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. However, Mr. Smarty Plants will provide you with some information that will help answer your question.

Philodendron is a genus that is found in the tropical Americas and the West Indies, and has species that are generally considered toxic to humans and animals due to the oxalic acid crystals in the leaves.

Variegated ginger, Alpinia zerumbet  is a native of India, but the species has been naturalized in Brazil. It is also found in some areas of central and south Florida.

There are two ferns that are called sword ferns; Polystichum munitum (western swordfern) and Nephrolepis exaltata (Boston swordfern.  Polystichum is native west of the Cascades in Washington, and Nephrolepsis is native to Florida.

The term palms is generally used to describe plants in the family Arecaceae. Two palms that occor in south Texas are Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto) and  Sabal mexicana (Rio Grande palmetto).  However, some other species have been introduced.

Now that you have the scientific names of the plants, you can check out their toxicity for horses using the databases below.

Texas Toxic Plant Database

ASPCA

Equisearch.com

Cornell University's Plants Poisonous to Livestock and other Animals

Poisonous Plants of the Southern United States

Ohio State University Extension

 


 


 

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