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
2 ratings

Friday - January 21, 2011

From: Merced, CA
Region: California
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Shade trees for horses in Merced, CA
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I would like to plant some trees to provide shade for horses in the pasture. What native trees are drought resistant (water may be spotty in the summer) yet safe for the animals? I live in the California central valley, and the soil in the pasture is clay. I would put a fence around the trees to protect them.

ANSWER:

First, let me tell you which trees are not safe to plant around horses.  Avoid all Quercus species (oaks) and Prunus species (plums, peaches, cherries, apricots, etc.).  Also, do not plant Acer rubrum (scarlet maple) or any Acer species—see Toxic Plants of Texas.  Most pine species are not listed on any toxic plant database, but Pinus ponderosa (Ponderosa pine) does appear on several of the databases below and should not be planted near cattle or horses.

Now, here are some that are safe and will provide shade for them:

Fraxinus dipetala (California ash) is a small deciduous tree (up to 20 feet) with fragrant white flowers.  Here are photos and more information.

Populus fremontii (Fremont cottonwood) is fast-growing and grows to 60 feet, but it does like moderate water.  Female plants produce cotton (the seeds), male plants do not.  The 'Nimbus' variety is male.  Here are more photos and information.

Platanus racemosa (California sycamore) grows fast and can reach 30 to 80 feet, but will need water until established.  Here are more photos and information.

Cercis orbiculata [syn. Cercis occidentalis var. orbiculata] (California redbud) is a small tree (up to 15 feet) with pink blossoms in the spring.  Here are more photos and information.

Umbellularia californica (California laurel) is evergreen and a slow-grower to 40 feet.  Here are more photos.

Here are databases that you can use to check on toxicity of plants to horses and other animals:

Pennsylvania's Poisonous Plants from the Universtiy of Pennsylvania

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

Toxic Plants of Texas

ASPCA's Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List - Horses

Horse Nutrition: Poisonous Plants from Ohio State University Extension Service

10 Most Poisonous Plants for Horses from Equisearch

 

Here are photos from our Image Gallery of some of the trees listed above:


Populus fremontii


Platanus racemosa


Cercis orbiculata


Umbellularia californica

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Native shade plants around fountain in California
March 18, 2009 - Hi, we just put a fountain in our front yard. It is in a mostly shady area. I need to know what plants would go best around the fountain and survive in the shade.
view the full question and answer

Dwarf native plants for shade in Burlington, MA
May 02, 2009 - Hi, I removed all of the evergreen shrubs in front of my house in Zone 6. It is in full shade all summer but has some sun during the spring because of a huge beech tree in front yard. there is 2 8'...
view the full question and answer

Hardy plant with minimal care for shade in dry soil
June 22, 2009 - I have a weekend house in Hawley, PA where I try to garden - often with poor results. There is a spot on the northeast corner of my foundation where I have put plant after plant - but none of them su...
view the full question and answer

Variety of native tall plants for a screen in shady area near Ft. Worth
June 12, 2007 - Hello, we live west of Ft Worth. We are looking for tall plants to form a visual screen along a chain link fence we share with a neighbor. We have post oaks there and it is very shady and the ground ...
view the full question and answer

Stumps of fallen oaks in Hurricane Irene from Newton PA
September 03, 2011 - Two large red oaks fell in the woods in our yard in Newtown PA due to Hurricane Irene. The trees have been removed, but the stumps remain. Please can you recommend some fast-growing, attractive, nativ...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center