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Friday - June 12, 2009

From: Chester Springs, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Vines
Title: Evergreen vine or plant that is non-toxic for horses in Pennsylvania
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I am looking for an evergreen vine or plant that can grow in shade and is not toxic to horses. I live 30 miles west of Philadephia. Can you help me? I would like to camouflage a wire horse fence. It is in the shade and I would like an evergreen. It also needs to be non toxic. I saw an ivy called a sub zero ivy would that be ok to use. I live in eastern PA. Thanks.


First of all, we would NOT recommend Sub Zero Ivy since it is a hybrid of Hedera helix (English ivy)Hedera helix is a non-native invasive species and is also listed by the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System and Poisonous Plants of North Carolina as toxic.

The only evergreen native vine in Pennsylvania, Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle), is evergreen in the south but is likely semi-evergreen in Pennsylvania.  It will grow in part shade (2 to 6 hours sun per day).

The following plants will grow in the shade (less than 2 hours sun per day).


Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern) grows up to 3 feet and is evergreen.

Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern) grows up to 3 feet and is evergreen.

Dryopteris carthusiana (spinulose woodfern) grows up to 3 feet and is semi-evergreen.

Dryopteris cristata (crested woodfern) grows up to 3 feet and is semi-evergreen.

Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern) grows up to 2 feet and is evergreen.

(Note:  Do NOT put Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern) on your fence. It is toxic to horses.)


Ledum groenlandicum (bog Labrador tea) grows to 3 feet high.

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) grows to 30-40 feet generally, but can be pruned into a hedge.

Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae) grows to 30 feet, but can be pruned into a hedge.

Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock) usually grows 40-70 feet, but can be pruned into hedge.

None of the plants above appeared on the following poisonous plants 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

Horse Nutrition: Poisonous Plants from Ohio State University

10 Most Poisonous Plants for Horses from EquiSearch.com

Poisonous Plants from Trailblazer Magazine

Toxic Plants: Horses from the ASPCA

You can search for deciduous vines or shrubs for your location using the COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database by choosing Pennsylvania from Select State or Province, then 'Shrub' or 'Vine' from Habit (general appearance), then 'Shade - ' from Light requirement.

Lonicera sempervirens

Polystichum acrostichoides

Dryopteris marginalis

Dryopteris carthusiana

Dryopteris cristata

Thelypteris noveboracensis

Ledum groenlandicum

Juniperus virginiana

Thuja occidentalis

Tsuga canadensis





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