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?

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
1 rating

Friday - June 19, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Non-poisonous evergreen shrub for Houston playground
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I would like to know what type of small bush or shrub would be appropriate to plant in a children's playground in Houston, TX. It will be located in full sun. I would like it to retain its leaves year round and not have berries, and preferably not flowers that will fall off and be "messy." And not poisonous, since children might decide to put the leaves in their mouths! Thank you!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants only knows of two evergreen shrubs that 'sort of' meet your criteria and that are native to the Houston area.  Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) is one of them.  Its berries have low toxicity but only female plants have berries.  If you can be sure that you have a male plant, it would be ideal.  The flowers are small and the leaves themselves are not toxic.  In fact, the leaves can be dried and used to make yaupon tea.  Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) is another native evergreen that has separate male and female plants—the female plants have the berries and they aren't toxic.  Again, the flowers on both plants are small.  If either of these two shrubs offered for sale in the nursery was propagated from cuttings, the nursery should know if the cuttings came from a male or a female plant.

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria

Morella cerifera

Morella cerifera

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

What plants grow well in Athens, TX?
January 18, 2011 - Athens, Texas, we have very sandy soil mixed with clay, what plants grow well here?
view the full question and answer

Is red tip Photinia toxic to dogs?
September 18, 2012 - Is the red tip bush toxic to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Foundation plants unlikely to provide good shade for rattlesnakes in TX
August 28, 2011 - I would like to plant native grass around my new home in the country near Mason, TX. My concerns are the rattlesnakes that are common here, and if they could "hide" in the native grasses since they ...
view the full question and answer

Need a drought resistant, maintenance free tree in Thomasville, GA.
April 20, 2012 - I have been through many tree forums and asked several nurseries about a good tree to plant but nobody has provided an adequate answer and I hope you can help. I live in SW Georgia (Zone 8) and need ...
view the full question and answer

Recommendations for native plants for Dallas Co., TX
May 12, 2007 - Looking for a Recommendation: Can you suggest a plant that meets the following requirements? ENVIRONMENT -- - I live in Garland, in Dallas County, TX. - The soil is primarily clay. - Full sun...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center