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

When is the best time to trim oak trees in Driftwood TX?
September 09, 2010 - When is the best time to trim oak trees?
view the full question and answer

Inquiry about the Arizona Cypress trees in the Family Garden
March 20, 2015 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I recently visited The Wildflower Center and enjoyed seeing several features that were new since my last visit two years ago. In the Family Garden areas I saw several beautifu...
view the full question and answer

Why do my Possumhaw Holly berries fall of in the summer in Euless, TX?
June 28, 2011 - My possumhaw holly has LOTS of green berries in the spring but they fall off in summer, so that I have only a handful of red berries in the winter. What is going wrong?
view the full question and answer

Viability of Desert Willow and Hong Kong Orchid Tree in Spring Branch, TX
December 26, 2006 - We live in Spring Branch, Rt 281 north of San Antonio. We want to plant a Regal Desert Willow tree and a Hong Kong Orchid tree. Will the cold / freeze be a problem? Where locally can we purchase th...
view the full question and answer

Growing a Swamp Oak from Seed
July 02, 2014 - I have a swamp oak that I started from an acorn. Someone at a nursery stated that after 4 years I should cut it off at ground level and then allow one of the suckers to grow while keep removing the ot...
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