Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

QUESTION:

Are bluebonnets toxic to horses?

ANSWER:

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:

"Question:
Are bluebonnets dangerous in a horse pasture?
Answer:
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."

PlantAnswers.com

"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

Wildflower gardening for Citrus Co., Florida
March 07, 2008 - I live in Citrus County Florida, on the north central, west side of the state. I hope to start a wildflower meadow in my natural back yard. Can you recommend good wildflowers to grow, and where to g...
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
March 23, 2005 - When (month and week) do you think the "peak of bluebonnet blooming" will be this year in the Austin, Fredericksbug, and Llano, Texas area?
view the full question and answer

Germination of Passiflora incarnata seeds
May 28, 2006 - I wish to purchase the Passionflower incarnata plants. I have found seeds, but they say they are very hard to start. I lost my very large vine and wish to replace it.
view the full question and answer

Wildflower succession from Austin
April 02, 2011 - I am interested in learning about a wildflower "cycle" (not sure of a better term). I recently saw the Wildflower special on PBS that talked briefly about an area that had wildflowers that naturally...
view the full question and answer

Hardiness of Mexican bush sage in USDA Zone 7
September 25, 2006 - I have a Mexican Sage (salvia). I need to know the care of it especially because it is a gift and the plant is about 5 ft. With the weather and the red clay I don't know if I could plant it or just ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.