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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 - June 02, 2009

From: Lake Worth, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Is black olive (Bucida buchera) toxic to people or dogs?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have what we think is a black olive tree growing in our front yard, which I keep trimmed to about 4 feet high. A bird dropped the seedling in my garden, so I'm not quite sure it's a black olive, but pretty sure when comparing the leaf with pictures. The tree is about 2 years old, and this year was the first year that it grew what look like blueberries, but smaller, about half the size of a blueberry. Wondering if these berries are edible or if they are poisonous to us or our dogs.

ANSWER:

According to the USDA Plant Database Bucida buceras (Florida "Black Olive" or Gregorywood) is a native of Florida; but, according to some sources (Florida Keys Invasive Exotics Task Force, pp.51-52) it is an invasive exotic plant.  Here are more photos.  Several sources (including Florida Gardener.com) says that its fruits are not edible.  However, that does not mean that they are poisonous—its scientific name doesn't appear in any of the following toxic plant databases:

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

Toxic Plants of Texas 

University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

Nor does its name appear in the ASPCA list of Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants for Dogs.

 

 

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