En Espa—ol

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

Friday - December 30, 2005

From: Seattle, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Local native plant for grave marker in Washington
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Dear wildflower expert, Our friendís dog died, and is buried in western Washington, near the town of Monroe. My wife is from central Texas, and thought a Texas perennial would be a nice marker. We thought the lobelia cardinalis would be a beautiful plant, but have read it is toxic to livestock. Is it also toxic to dogs and cats? Can you suggest a suitable, flowering perennial? The site gets over 30 inches of rain per year, some snow in the winter, and the ground can freeze a few inches deep. Thanks for your help.


The cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is listed as toxic to humans and livestock by the Poisonous Plants Databases of the Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility and the University of Pennsylvania. It is not specifically listed as toxic to pets, but that does not necessarily mean that is safe for them.

Planting a native plant on the grave of your friend's dog would be a lovely tribute. Lobelia cardinalis is a beautiful plant native to Texas; however, it isn't native to western Washington and the Northwest and is not likely to grow very well there, if at all. Perhaps you could consider a local native plant for the tribute to your friend's dog. The Washington Native Plant Society has a list of Pacific Northwest Plants for Western Washington Gardens that offers alternatives. One possibility from the list is Sitka columbine (Aquilegia formosa). You also can find information and photos of plants on the list in the Native Plants Database on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center web page. The Washington Native Plant Society also offers a list of native plant and seed resources for the state.


More Poisonous Plants Questions

GMO/GE crops killing wildflowers and insects
October 31, 2008 - Hi, I've read where GMO/GE crops in other countries were killing the wildflowers and insects adjacent to those fields. Have you had any reports of this North America. Best regards.
view the full question and answer

Non-Toxic Flowering Vine for Sunny Trellis in California
March 12, 2015 - I am looking for a flowering trellis plant that is non-toxic to my dog, will grow in the California area that I live in, and will be in full sun.
view the full question and answer

Are palm leaves poisonous?
August 25, 2009 - I live in a second story house surronded by various types of palm trees on the west coast of Florida. My 1 year old son crawls on the decks and tries to taste all of the palm leaves that sneak through...
view the full question and answer

Black chokeberry edible from Huntsville ON
May 04, 2013 - Can the fruit of the black chokeberry be eaten??
view the full question and answer

Is Phyla lanceolata (frogfruit) poisonous to dogs fromTitusville FL?
June 01, 2014 - Is Phyla lanceolata, also called Fogfruit, Lanceleaf Fogfruit, or Northern Fogfruit, toxic to dogs? We have it growing amongst our grass. I can't find it on any toxic plant list.
view the full question and answer

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