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?


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

Monday - August 31, 2009

From: Aguanga, CA
Region: California
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Native plants and possible poisonous plants in Aguanga, California
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I am in the process of moving to Aguanga California. I am interested in knowing what the native plants are in that area. Are they poison to animals and kids?


Our Native Plant Database, a work in progress, doesn't yet contain all the native plants that occur in California, but you can find a list of 2,389 native California plants listed there.  Since California is such a large state with many different climates and terrains, those more than 2000 plants won't occur in all of California.  We can narrow the list down for southern California plants by looking at a list of commerically available native plants suitable for landscaping in our California-Southern Recommended list.  This doesn't by any means give you all the plants native to southern California, but it does contain many of the most common ones. 

Now for the poisonous native plants in southern California I actually found a couple of lists.  One list by Owen E. Dell, The Big Ten: Southern California Plants Seriously Poisonous to Humans, as its name suggests lists ten highly toxic plants. Only one of these, however, Toxicodendron diversilobum (Pacific poison oak), is native to southern California and North America.  You certainly would want to recognize those nine other toxic plants so I suggest that you do an internet search on each of them using their scientific name to see photos and read more about them.  Another list (also by Owen E. Dell), Poisonous Plants Commonly Occurring in Southern California, is a more extensive list that includes plants with various degrees of toxicity—some mild and some severe.  This list does contain many plants native to southern California that you can find by searching in our Native Plant Database.  There is also a small book, Poisonous plants of southern California, published in 1998 by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation that should be available in a nearby library or is possibly still in print.



More Poisonous Plants Questions

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

Landscaping trees and shrubs non-toxic to dogs from Monticello FL
March 08, 2013 - We're landscaping and need advice on large and small evergreen trees and shrubs that are native to or will flourish in North Florida. We plan to put in a treeline (large and semi-large trees) as wel...
view the full question and answer

Plants referred to as Hummingbird plants
August 22, 2008 - We have a a plant that is sometimes called a Hummingbird Plant, sometimes a Firecracker plant. I have also seen the name lonicera sempervirens. Are they poisonous? This is a plant, not a vine. T...
view the full question and answer

Is Penstemon Poisonous to Dogs?
February 21, 2016 - Is Penstemon palmeri poisonous to dogs? I couldn't find in ASPA guide.
view the full question and answer

Datura in the state of Washington.
October 09, 2009 - I have a datura species growing beneath my bird feeder. How did it get here in Western Washington?? It has the typical fragrant, tubular flowers & spiky seed pods. It has grown 3' tall & 4' wide. Am...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center