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

Wednesday - February 25, 2009

From: New Braunfels, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Cake decorations with flowers
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Can I decorate a cake with bluebonnets, lavender or mountain laurel blooms?


Could you put blossoms of any of these flowers right down on the icing, perhaps even offering them as edible decorations? No, we wouldn't recommend it. Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is only available for a short time in the year, and the blossoms would probably fall apart if you tried to separate them into individual pieces for your decorations. And we're not sure the blossoms would survive being washed. Lavender (lavandula) is native to the Meditteranean area, and not to North America. We know that it is sometimes used in cooking, although not really considered one of the culinary herbs.  Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) is not only considered to have some toxicity in all parts of the plant, but the bright red berries are extremely poisonous. We would certainly hesitate to have the blooms of such a plant even in a bouquet in water nearby where it might be tasted by a child. 

In short, rather than attempt to use fragile blooms as a baking decoration, we would recommend a piped-on picture in colored icing, and leave the flowers blooming on the plants where they belong. 

Sophora secundiflora

Lupinus texensis




More Shrubs Questions

Native trees and shrubs for Austin
June 11, 2008 - Hello, I'm searching for a small or medium-sized endemic or native tree (or tree-like shrub) to feature in the front yard of my South Austin bungalow. I want something that provides dappled shade so...
view the full question and answer

Late winter pruning of native Texas Sage
January 27, 2005 - I have several Texas Sage bushes that have started to get very woody and have growth only on the top. This seems to have led to a definite listing to one side. Should I trim these to the ground or...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for gravesite in North Central Massachusetts
May 18, 2008 - I live in North Central Mass. Would like to plant something on my parents gravesite that would not be invasive or require a lot of care. Any suggestions? I just took 2 shrubs out that had become way...
view the full question and answer

Sunny and shady lawns from Austin
April 28, 2012 - My front yard has a large bed surrounded by a mix of St. Augustine and Bermuda grass. Last summers heat killed off about 90% of the St. Augustine, which we would like to replace anyway to conserve re...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for a Sunny, Steep Slope in Maryland
April 29, 2013 - I need a groundcover for a sunny dry steep slope in Towson, Maryland. The slope goes from the parking lot down to a deck area.
view the full question and answer

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