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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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Wednesday - April 01, 2009

From: Archer, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Non-toxic shade trees for horses in Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Looking for non poisonous shade trees for pasture with horses. Would prefer flowering or something that changes color. Thank you.

ANSWER:

First of all, Mr. Smarty Plants wants to refer you to some plants to AVOID for your horses.  Please see the lists from the following sources:

10 Most Poisonous Plants for Horses from EquiSearch.com

Poisonous Plants from Trailblazer Magazine

Toxic Plants: Horses from the ASPCA

Horse Nutrition: Poisonous Plants from Ohio State University

Next, Mr. Smarty Plants refers you to our Recommended Species page to find native plants that are commerically available in Florida.  You can select 'Florida' from the map or pulldown menu and then NARROW YOUR SEARCH by selecting 'Tree' from the Habit (general appearance) option.

You can also find a list of recommended species from near your area (Suwannee County) from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Finally, Mr. Smarty Plants refers you to some toxic plant databases that you can check for the plants you like.  These would be:  Poisonous Plants of North Carolina, Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock, Texas Toxic Plant Database, and University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants.  When you find a tree that you would like to plant in your pasture, you can compare it with these lists to see if it is safe for your horses.  From the two Florida Recommended species lists mentioned above, Mr. Smarty Plants has chosen several species and checked them against the toxic plant databases.  These species are:

Cornus florida (flowering dogwood) with beautiful flowers and fall foliage

Chionanthus virginicus (white fringetree)

Castanea pumila (chinkapin) with flowers and unusual fruits/seeds.  Here are more photos and information.

Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud)

Ptelea trifoliata (common hoptree) with beautiful flowers and unusual fruits/seeds


Cornus florida

Cornus florida

Chionanthus virginicus

Castanea pumila

Cercis canadensis

Ptelea trifoliata

Ptelea trifoliata
 

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