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
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

Is Penstemon cobaea poisonous
May 12, 2009 - Is Penstemon cobaea Nutt or Wild foxglove poisonous like real fox glove? It is on a playground and Im concerned that it may not be safe for children.
view the full question and answer

Muhlenbergia dumosa safe for horses from Austin
May 13, 2014 - Is Muhlenbergia dumosa safe for horses? Will horses eat it? I have a client who has a mini-horse who visits her property on occasion, and I want to ensure that what I plant is both safe for the hors...
view the full question and answer

Toxicity of seeds of Texas Mountain Laurel for dog
April 07, 2007 - I have a Tx Mountain Laurel that is in 1 end of a dog pen. I just heard the seeds are poisonous. Is this true & should we pull the seeds off so the dog can't reach them to eat? Thanks for your assist...
view the full question and answer

Are palm leaves poisonous?
August 25, 2009 - I live in a second story house surronded by various types of palm trees on the west coast of Florida. My 1 year old son crawls on the decks and tries to taste all of the palm leaves that sneak through...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Mountain Laurel by seed
April 20, 2006 - I have a Texas Mountain Laurel. I found on this website that the beans are poisonous, but if you plant them, will they grow another Mountain Laurel?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center