En EspaÑol

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - April 23, 2009

From: Lebanon, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Toxicity of non-native Royal Empress tree
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We want to plant some fast-growing trees for shade for my horses. My friend wants to use Royal Empress trees. Can you tell me if these are toxic to horses (and also goats)? I have a lot of clay in the soil on my property.

ANSWER:

The first thing we want to do is urge you NOT to plant the Royal Empress tree, for reasons you will learn from this Plant Conservation Alliance Alien Working Group website on Paulownia tomentosa. It is a native of western and central China, and can quickly become invasive, crowding out or destroying more desirable native plants. As in the case in other fast-growing trees, it is a weak tree and not long-lived. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we recommend only plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants are being grown. Plants native to an area will be adapted to the climate, rainfall and soils, and require less fertilizer, water and maintenance.

Now, for what plants are poisonous to horses, excerpted from a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer:

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 Indiana.  You can select 'Indiana' from the map or pulldown menu and then NARROW YOUR SEARCH by selecting 'Tree' from the Habit (general appearance) option.

You might also check for recommended species near your area (Boone County) on the Indiana Native Plant Society website.

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 Indiana Recommended species list mentioned above, Mr. Smarty Plants has chosen several species and checked them against the toxic plant databases.  These species are:

Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam)

Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)

Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)


Carpinus caroliniana

 


Carya ovata

Platanus occidentalis
 

More Non-Natives Questions

Problems with Indian Hawthorn in Richmond TX
February 19, 2010 - I have a lot of Indian Hawthorne plants. I have noticed over the last couple of years that sporadically one will develope a brown area that looks like it was burned or had gasoline poured on it. The...
view the full question and answer

Will a non-native smoke tree, Cotinus coggygria, be harmful in Utah
May 08, 2009 - Can one plant a smoke tree in Utah without causing and harm to the environment? I'm worried that this plant may be a species that could cause a problem since I believe it is not a native plant.
view the full question and answer

Water for non-native Sub-Zero ivy in El Paso
March 25, 2011 - Sub-Zero Ivy: Do they require lots of water - I live El Paso, TX - dry climate. Are they dangerous to dogs? Will they do well as ground cover around a brick patio? - Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Short, Natural Evergreen Shrubs for Texas
March 12, 2015 - I am looking for small/dwarf evergreen shrubs that, when mature, will be no larger than three feet tall. If possible I would like shrubs that are graceful and more natural looking rather than “regimen...
view the full question and answer

Identity of plant at funeral that smells similar to honeysuckle
April 04, 2013 - What plant or flower smells similar to honeysuckle? I live in Ohio and I smelled some kind of flower or plant at a friends funeral last spring that smelled similar to honeysuckle. It was...
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