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

Hummingbird Attracting Plants for Shade in Smithville, TX
March 28, 2012 - I want hummingbird plants for shade.
view the full question and answer

Hedge for Austin
April 09, 2009 - Hi. I live in West Austin and am having trouble finding plants for our heavily shaded yard (thanks to our beautiful large live oaks). I love glossy, dark green leaves and big flowers. I love the came...
view the full question and answer

Native ornamental grass for part shade in Austin
December 22, 2010 - Hi. I am looking for a fast-growing hardy ornamental grass that will grow in partial shade in south Austin that is not considered invasive. Unfortunately I purchased a few of the Pennisetum setaceum r...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for shady area in north Texas
July 29, 2013 - I'm looking for a ground cover for a mostly shady area where St. Augustine won't grow. I don't want the ground cover to overtake my established St. Augustine in the rest of the yard. The area is un...
view the full question and answer

Need mowable ground cover for shady area under trees in Lake Charles, LA.
July 12, 2010 - I live in Southwest Louisiana. I have a large portion of my back yard that is very shady because I have large trees in the yard. The area dries up fairly quickly after a heavy rain, so it isn't extre...
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