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

Planting live oak trees in summer in Austin
June 09, 2011 - We would like to plant a few live oak trees in our front yard for shade and animal protection. As it is very hot and dry right now, can we plant now? If not, when?
view the full question and answer

Control of live oak root sprouts, or suckers, under tree
September 19, 2007 - Have live oak trees in clusters with circular beds surrounding in frontyard. Have been invaded by some type weed that looks a bit like holly. Woody stem a few inches high with several serrated leave...
view the full question and answer

Rock under space for Bigtooth Maple in San Antonio
May 20, 2013 - I just got a 10 gallon Bigtooth Maple in Medina TX for my home outside loop 1604 in San Antonio. I hit rock about 7 inches in when trying to plant it..I am entertaining the idea for a raised bed to le...
view the full question and answer

Need help with my 25 yr old Mountain Ash in Clinton Township, MI.
July 11, 2011 - For the first time our 25yr old mountain ash tree has dying branches, we removed one branch and it seems to have spread to other branches? What should we do?
view the full question and answer

Shade trees for Spring TX
August 17, 2011 - Dear Mr.Pants, our west-facing backyard in Spring, Tx, is unbearable in this Summer's heat. Neither us nor the neighbors has any backyard trees established yet, as the subdivision is pretty new. C...
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