En Español

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

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - June 25, 2009

From: Angola, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Poisonous cherries from trees in Angola, IN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Are there any poisonous cherries from trees in Indiana?

ANSWER:

There are six members of the genus Prunus native to Indiana that have "cherry" in their common names:

Prunus pensylvanica (pin cherry)

Prunus pensylvanica var. pensylvanica (pin cherry)

Prunus serotina var. serotina (black cherry)

Prunus serotina (black cherry)

Prunus virginiana (chokecherry)

Prunus virginiana var. virginiana (chokecherry)

All members of the Prunus genus, which includes peaches, pears, almonds, plums, cherries and chokecherries, have the same characteristics of having toxic parts.  All members of the genus bear the same warning about the ingestion of leaves, twigs or seeds of fruit. These parts of the plants contain cyanogenic glycoside or cyanogens that are highly toxic and may be fatal if eaten. Cyanogenic glycosides are changed into free cyanide either in plant material that has been damaged or in the gastrointestinal tracts of animals. It is most severe in ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats, deer) but is also very dangerous for animals with single stomachs (e.g., dogs, cats, horses, pigs). If you wish to treat the cherries as edible plants, you must be very careful about not letting the seeds be available for consumption, and keeping wilted leaves, twigs, etc. out of the reach of animals or children. 

The cherries that you would ordinarily purchase in cans for cooking are non-native to North America. The Prunus avium, or sweet cherry, and the Prunus cerasus, sour cherry, both from Asia and Europe, still share the same toxicity as other members of the genus. 

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Hardy plants for a narrow yard in Illinois
July 28, 2008 - I have an area in my yard that is approx 35 feet by 5 feet that is shaded on the east by a 4 ft fence and on the west by the house and above by trees. It slopes off to the neighbors yard (so doesn't ...
view the full question and answer

Indoor and Outdoor, Fast Growing Plants for California
October 22, 2015 - Iím looking for the best plants for me. I have small kids so they would have to be safe. I would like them to be able to grow inside or outside. I would love for them to grow fast and reproduce fast.
view the full question and answer

Campsis radicans or cow itch
April 03, 2008 - We cleaned my father-in-law's home-place up out in the country week-before-last. My wife, her 2 sisters and a niece have this unusual-looking poison on them. It is big red places and itches all ove...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly Garden, non-poisonous to Dogs, in Taylor MI
March 27, 2014 - I have a small fenced yard with a patio that my dogs have free access to. I would like to create a butterfly garden and add other plants that are non toxic to my dachshunds. Any suggestions. I am f...
view the full question and answer

Poison ivy? vine in NJ
July 30, 2012 - I have a vine growing among some vegetation in my backyard. It has a leaf with 3 "points" with ridges along its edges. The smaller leaves are reddish which is why I thought poison ivy but definite...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center