Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

White and Violet Flower in Missouri
March 17, 2016 - When I was small I came into contact with a plant that gave me cold sweats, chills and hallucinations. All I remember was it bore a single flower with a little white and a lot of violet. It had a dark...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for horses in Austin
October 27, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants We just bought 4.5 acres in Travis County off HWY 290. We have 3 horses we keep on it but there is very little grass in the pastures. What is the best type of grass to seed ...
view the full question and answer

Is it safe to eat vegetables grown in the same bed as foxgloves?
August 12, 2012 - I have foxglove in my flower beds and have planted tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and cantaloupe in the flower bed and now I am concerned about the shared root system. Also, my tomatoes are touching the...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs that non-toxic to horses but that they won't eat
October 29, 2011 - I am looking for a low maintenance, low water, green shrub that horses won't eat and will not be toxic to them. I want to hide my neighbors corral and keep down dust on my side. The horses have "l...
view the full question and answer

Potential allelopathy of cultivar of Artemisia ludoviciana
March 09, 2009 - I recently submitted a question regarding allelopathic potential of artemisia ludoviciana on rusty blackhaw viburnum, not specifying that I meant Vibernum rufidulum. Mr. SP interpreted my viburnum as...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.