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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - September 14, 2009

From: Riverside, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Is the non-native California pepper tree (Schinus molle) toxic for horses?
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Is it safe and a good idea to put a horse corral around an established California pepper tree? Thank you, Mr. Smarty Plants


Schinus molle (California pepper tree), despite its common name, is native to Peru and not California nor North America.  We, at the Wildflower Center, are dedicated to studying, preserving and promoting plants native to North America so this plant is really not in our purview.  We can offer you some reliable sources for determining if this tree is toxic to livestock, however.  First, all parts of the tree have been used traditionally in herbal medicine. However, Poisonous Plants Commonly Ocurring in Southern California by Owen E. Dell does list Schinus molle. The Toxic Plants list from the University of California-Davis and the Botanical Dermatology Database (BoDD) both say that California pepper tree causes dermatitis. The BoDD also says that the ingested fruits can cause gastro-intestinal inflammation and hemorrhoids and the Biodiversity Explorer says:  "Fruit are used for producing red pepper but can be toxic if eaten in quantity."  There are other references that also say the red fruits are toxic if eaten in quantity; so, it would seem that at the very least it would be a good idea to remove as many as possible of the seeds from the tree and of those that have fallen to the ground underneath it to keep the horse from having access to them in large quantities.



More Non-Natives Questions

Micro clover for groundcover
March 10, 2012 - Hi there! I am interested in overseeding my lawn with a micro clover mix.. however, I cannot find any information on the web about how it might act here in Central Texas. Do you have any experience wi...
view the full question and answer

Ants and garden plants for Austin
November 03, 2012 - I am needy of companion plants that compliment and work well with the Lantana, Mexican Heather , and in the new beds that I am preparing where I was thinking in part to have passion flower (though is ...
view the full question and answer

Planting wildflowers from Wichita Falls, TX
August 24, 2013 - Hi, Thanks so much for the answers you give! You've been very helpful to me in the past. I have two quick questions: 1) I have been harvesting seeds from my wildflowers. I wonder when the best time...
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive Chocolate Mimosa in Gulfport MS
May 18, 2011 - Another Mimosa Question: I have a newly planted chocolate mimosa; it has a single, 7 ft spindly trunk with approximately a 3 ft canopy. I'm afraid that its girth will not withstand much in terms of...
view the full question and answer

Pine bark on non-native St. Augustine grass in Kingwood TX
May 12, 2010 - I had two large Pine trees cut down. In the process of cutting the trees down there is a lot of pine bark from the tree on my St Augustine grass. Will this affect the growth of my grass?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center