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

Planting dogwood in Baytown TX
April 23, 2010 - I live in Baytown Texas and was wondering if this would be a good area to plant a dogwood tree?
view the full question and answer

Weak flowering on rosa minutifolia from San Diego CA
July 27, 2013 - Hi, I have a Rosa minutifolia and has been doing great, but when it gives flowers the petals fall too fast, only last a day or two and also the fruit never forms completely and finishes drying so I ca...
view the full question and answer

Repotting of lemon cypress for drainage
October 26, 2008 - Hi, I bought a lemon cypress tree in a nice tin, It is in Plastic and the bottom has about 1.5" of water with no drainage in the plastic or tin. It will be kept inside. Does the plant need to be in...
view the full question and answer

Death of lantana in Bryan TX
March 28, 2013 - I would like to know what killed several new gold lantana in a single bed that died over the winter. They looked quite healthy last fall. I have several other new gold lantana that survived the wint...
view the full question and answer

Plants to hide utility boxes
July 16, 2008 - What are suggestions for plants to plant around utilities boxes (3 of them clustered together) to effectively camouflage them but be attractive. We will outline a larger area in brick, plant evergree...
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