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

Friday - May 06, 2011

From: Washington, DC
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Broad leaved evergreens for DC
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We are looking for a flowering evergreen shrub, native to the mid-Atlantic, that grows in part shade but will tolerate full sun. We have been researching rhododendrons and azaleas but are concerned about the toxicity of the plants to humans. We have seen a lot of information on their attractiveness and toxicity to animals but are these shrubs a problem to have around small children?

ANSWER:

We understand your concern and you are right that ingestion of Rhododendron maximum (Great laurel) can be dangerous.  Honey made fom the flowers can also be toxic.

Kalmia latifolia (Mountain laurel), another flowering broad leaved evergreen native to your area and suitable for your conditions is also toxic.  Both plants are members of the Heath Family.

That being said, both rhododendrons and mountain laurels are widely used as ornamental landscape plants and there are rarely problems, but if you think you cannot prevent your children from ingesting plant material, you should choose another plant.

If you decide to go with another plant, you can use our Native Plant Database to help with the selection.  Scroll down to Combination Search and select: DC/shrub/part shade and moist soil (if that is what you have) and the size you are looking for.  It will generate a list with links to detailed information pages and more images.  You will find the rhododendron and mountain laurel on that list.

 


Rhododendron maximum


Kalmia latifolia

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Urushiol Oil Persistance?
September 09, 2015 - I'm trekking into poison ivy infested areas for work every other day. I make sure to wear long pants, long sleeves, boots, and long socks over my pants. I walk into my office to drop off supplies and...
view the full question and answer

Wisteria and Non-Poisonous Native Vines
February 15, 2012 - I'm from central Texas and I'm wanting to plant a native vine that will work well around the public, mainly kids. It's a mostly sunny trellis that makes an arch. I'd like to plant the native Wiste...
view the full question and answer

Are crepe myrtles (Lagerstroemia sp.) toxic to horses?
November 21, 2008 - Are crepe myrtle trees toxic to horses ?
view the full question and answer

Black chokeberry edible from Huntsville ON
May 04, 2013 - Can the fruit of the black chokeberry be eaten??
view the full question and answer

Are the seeds of Texas ebony poisonous to dogs from Chandler AZ
October 30, 2009 - Please tell me if it is dangerous for my puppy to eat the seeds of a Texas ebony. She seems to be attracted to them.
view the full question and answer

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