En Español

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

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.

 
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

Leaves on Spanish oaks in Hays County TX dying
April 18, 2009 - I have many Spanish Oaks on my Hays County property. The leaves started blooming last week, but this week all the young leaves are brown and appear to be dying. This is happening to all the otherwise ...
view the full question and answer

Are Black Olive trees safe to have in pastures in Florida
May 06, 2009 - I am trying to find out if Black Olive trees will be safe to have in our yard and/or pastures. We raise cattle, goats and horses. We need to find some good shade trees that are safe for our animals ...
view the full question and answer

Selection of native trees to replace trees lost in hurricane
September 28, 2008 - Hello, I have a tree replacement list I must choose from as I live in a HOA deeded area. I lost 2 pines to the hurricane. And according to them I need to replace with 2 large trees. The pines were 15 ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native, invasive mimosa trees in Vincennes IN
April 29, 2014 - I have 3 Mimosa trees here in Vincennes, Indiana and so far none of them are leafing out this spring (4-28-14) Do you think that this past winter could have killed then?
view the full question and answer

Problem with Quercus texana (Nuttall oak) in Alabama
March 12, 2014 - I have a 3" diameter Nuttall Oak that the builder planted when building the house. Last summer I noticed that several spots on the trunk were oozing sap (vertical approximately 1.5" long by 0.5" wi...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center