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?

Share

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 - November 29, 2010

From: Unknown city, CA
Region: California
Topic: Trees
Title: Are red berries of modesto ash toxic to dogs
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Are the red berries that come off the modesto ash tree poisonous to dogs if they eat them?

ANSWER:

Modesto ash, a cultivar of Fraxinus velutina (Arizona ash), does not appear on any of the following toxic plant databases that I checked:

ASPCA's Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List – Dogs

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

Toxic Plants of Texas 

University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

However, I think you may have misidentified your tree.  The fruit/seeds of Fraxinus velutina are NOT red berries.  Their seeds are contained in winged structures called samaras, very much like maple seeds.  You can see the seeds of Fraxinus velutina on the USDA Plants Database, as well as the Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness and the Southwest Environmental Information Network databases. 

There are, however, several mountain ash trees (Sorbus sp.) that do have red berries.  I suspect that one of these is the tree that you have.  There are three native species of Sorbus that occur in California plus a non-native European one.

Sorbus californica (California mountain ash) and here are photos

Sorbus scopulina (Cascade mountain-ash)

Sorbus sitchensis (Sitka mountain-ash) and here are photos

Sorbus aucuparia (European mountain ash

None of the Sorbus species occurs on the toxic plant databases listed above.  The berries from the European mountain ash, also known as the rowan tree, has been used historically for medicinal purposes and to make jelly and chutney.

If your tree isn't one of the Sorbus species above, you should try to get a correct identification of it.  Visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page to find forums that will help you identify your tree if you provide them with photographs.  Once you have its correct identification you can compare its name to those in the above lists.  Your best bet is to use the botanical name for comparison in the the toxic plant databases since it less likely to be variable than the common name.


Fraxinus velutina


Sorbus scopulina


Sorbus scopulina

 

 

More Trees Questions

Hardy Tree for Kansas
March 14, 2012 - I'm hoping to find a tree that is hardy and will survive all rough seasons in Wichita, KS. The spot is in front of a northern exposure window.
view the full question and answer

Plants beneath native bald cypress trees in Thibodaux LA
September 14, 2009 - I have a bed that needs to be revamped and it has two beautiful 18 year old Bald cypress trees. I would like to work the soil and plant some appropriate shade tolerant plants. How do I work the soil...
view the full question and answer

Planting under Walnut Trees in Harrisville, MI.
July 22, 2009 - I have 2 50+ yr old Black Walnut trees in Northern Michigan (zone 4). I am planting a new bed (raised of course) and was considering adding a hydrangea. I am curious if this will thrive due to the jug...
view the full question and answer

Are bald cypress cones toxic to dogs?
October 27, 2013 - Are bald cypress tree seed pods poisonous? to dogs? We just got a rescue dog and we go out in the yard with her. But now that we are into fall and the pods are falling. She goes right to them. Are...
view the full question and answer

Webbing on oak leaves and fuzzy yellow growths on leaf veins
November 09, 2010 - I have a large red oak(?) and live oak that appear to have the same problem. Clumps of leaves all over the trees are covered by fine webbing and the leaves appear to be curling up and dying in the we...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center