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

Fast-growing trees for privacy in East Texas
September 02, 2013 - Fast growing tree seeds for my area to create a tree grove for privacy.
view the full question and answer

Native shrub to replace non-native azaleas.
February 10, 2009 - I want to replace my two dozen azaleas this spring (I think they're unattractive once the flowers fall off). I like the multiseason characteristics of weigela (midnight wine, W&R), but want to go na...
view the full question and answer

New Jersey Tea shrub wilting and losing leaves
December 30, 2013 - I have New Jersey Tea shrubs transplanted last spring from nursery stock (18 tall, grown local) I live in SE WI. They are planted in part shade. There has been 6" of snow on the ground for weeks now...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Actaea simplex in Washington State
September 07, 2008 - I have a Actaea simplex 'Hillside Black Beauty' that I planted in mid August 2007 in a partial, almost full shade spot. This year it came back , but the foliage is brown with dark and light green a...
view the full question and answer

Texas native plants for cemetery site
February 09, 2005 - I am trying to landscape my mothers gravesite located in far East Texas (just outside of Nacogdoches) and I am looking for some evergreen bushes or any other decorative plants for that area. I am thi...
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