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?


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

Thursday - March 10, 2011

From: Pearland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Are bluebonnets toxic to horses from Pearland TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Are bluebonnets toxic to horses?


We couldn't find any definitive yes or no on this subject. Apparently, eating enough  bluebonnets can be dangerous for a horse, depending on their size, age and how much is eaten. We found several websites that touched on the subject, and have included some quotations from them.

Poison in the Pasture

"Normally, horses won't eat poisonous plants. But, during summer months when pasture grasses turn dry and brown or when the pasture is over grazed, horses will eat anything they can find. Often grasses found around irrigated landscape plants or irrigation systems contain dangerous weeds along with those blades of succulent grass. And a young, nosey horse will often try something just to see what it tastes like.

Did you know that the fragrant flowering shrub from which we get perfume - jasmine -is death to horses? So are larkspur, bluebonnet, creeping ivy and buttercup - all popular landscape plants. Even the leaves of oak trees are toxic if eaten in large enough quantities."

Understanding Horse Nutrition from the Bexar County Extension Office:

Are bluebonnets dangerous in a horse pasture?
Bluebonnets are somewhat toxic, but very distasteful to animals. Horses, cows and bluebonnets have co-existed for as long as they have all been around."


"The Moderately Toxic listing includes: Bulbs, Lupine (Bluebonnets!), Rhubarb, Azalea, Rhododendron, Oats, Larkspur, Milkweed, Mustard, Spurges, Nightshades, Black Walnut, and Red Oak."

You will have to come to your own conclusion. We certainly wouldn't suggest cultivating bluebonnets in a pasture meant for horses, but this USDA Plant Profile map does not show Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) growing natively in the Pearland area anyway.


From the Image Gallery

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

More Wildflowers Questions

Growing bluebonnets from seed in Maitland FL
May 17, 2011 - Can I grow bluebonnets from seed in Maitland? The soil is quite sandy, and I do have sunny, dry places to grow them. Are there any special requirements necessary away from their native habitat?
view the full question and answer

First spring wildflower to bloom in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
December 15, 2008 - In Pittsburgh PA what spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom?
view the full question and answer

Seeds of mayflower
May 03, 2005 - Although I now live in Virginia, I grew up in eastern South Dakota. Several years ago while visiting SD I was walking in the pasture and noticed that many of the wild mayflowers (pasqueflowers) had ...
view the full question and answer

Visiting Texas for bluebonnets
December 29, 2004 - I know rainfall amounts in the winter affect the blooming of bluebonnets in the spring. I am thinking about visiting Texas this spring. What should I be looking for in rainfall amounts? I will watch...
view the full question and answer

Best date for spring bluebonnet blooms for 2015
January 31, 2015 - What is the estimated date range for the best bluebonnet viewing in the Hill Country this year (2015). I have guests from the north planning a visit and we'd like to pick a weekend with great possibi...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center