En Español

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

Herbal properties of Dicentra formosa
January 23, 2016 - I would like to get some information on the Dicentra formosa plant such as the benefits of the plant. Is it poisonous? Can it be infused in an oil?
view the full question and answer

Is Sucissa pratensis (Devil's bit scabious) allelopathic?
July 04, 2013 - Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center pointed me to you. Can you comment on Devil's Bit Scabious? A neighbor pointed out these volunteer plants in my yard and wants me to kill them. He called them Devi...
view the full question and answer

White flowering mountain laurel from Driftwood TX
August 23, 2012 - I love white flowering mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) and want to grow one from seeds. I've had a lot of success germinating and growing purple mountain laurel from seeds (or beans), so I DO ...
view the full question and answer

Will Hellebores planted in the soil near vegetables transfer poisons to them?
April 29, 2015 - I just planted helleborus in my garden and have now read that they are toxic. They are planted near vegetable plants, will they affect the vegetables and leave them inedible? Also, are they toxic to d...
view the full question and answer

Non-native vines poisonous from Bakersfield CA
May 17, 2013 - Are pink bower vines and stars and stripes mandevilla toxic to dogs?
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center