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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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.

 
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Thursday - April 01, 2010

From: Rose City, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Identification of poisonous shrub native to Michigan
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

This is found throughout the northern portion of the LP and in the UP. It grows to 3' as a shrub. It's leaves twigs and flowers ARE POISONOUS! It blooms in the Spring and can be found in the sun and in bogs, as well as a few other locations. This plant is native to Michigan. I can not identify it.

ANSWER:

You haven't given Mr. Smarty Plants much to go on except that it is a shrub that is poisonous and is native to Michigan.  However, here are a few possibilities: 

Kalmia angustifolia (sheep laurel)

Kalmia polifolia (bog laurel)

Cicuta maculata (spotted water hemlock)

Baptisia alba (white wild indigo)

Datura wrightii (sacred thorn-apple)

Dirca palustris (eastern leatherwood) and here are photos and more information

Andromeda polifolia (bog rosemary)

Rhamnus alnifolia (alderleaf buckthorn) and here are photos and more information

Viburnum opulus var. americanum (American cranberrybush)

The plants above are native to Michigan and are all listed on one or more of the following toxic plant databases:

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina Database, Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock, and Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System.

You can see a list of Michigan shrubs that would potentially grow in bogs by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database and choosing 'Michigan' from Select State or Province, 'Shrub' from Habit (general appearance), and 'Wet - soil is saturated with water' from Soil moisture.

If none of these are the plant you are trying to identify, please take photos and send them to us and we will do our very best to identify it.  Please visit Mr. Smary Plants' Plant Identification page for instructions for submitting photos.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery of some of the plants above:


Kalmia angustifolia

Kalmia polifolia

Cicuta maculata

Baptisia alba

Datura wrightii

Andromeda polifolia

Viburnum opulus var. americanum

 

 

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