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

Problems with non-native gardenias in San Ramon, CA
July 11, 2009 - I have a Gardenia tree planted in my front yard that gets shade and sun. It is dropping leaves and the leaves that are left are yellow. I had been watering it every day, but decreased that to every ot...
view the full question and answer

Mexican species Orbexilum melanocarpum.
January 04, 2013 - This is not a question; just a note to supplement a previous MSP post answering a query about a source for Orbexilum. The "mountain pea" that the original questioner was asking about is the e...
view the full question and answer

Growing a non-native lemon tree in Central Illinois
August 03, 2009 - How to grow a lemon tree in Central Illinois? Which one would be the best to grow?
view the full question and answer

Possibility of transporting native seeds to Europe
February 03, 2011 - Hi, Is it possible to bring seeds for North American plants and wildflowers from the USA to Europe? I live in Italy and have many Italian friends who want me to bring seeds from America the next time ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native privet in Austin
November 15, 2010 - My 2 privet shrubs/bushes facing the east in a shady area seem to be have less leaves and dead flowers, while across a walk way that 1 privet shrub/bush has lots of green leaves with lots of dying flo...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center