Explore Plants

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
    
 

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.

 

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Vine non-toxic to alpacas and dogs from Fowler CA
June 29, 2012 - We have alpacas and would like to plant a flowering vine on a backyard fence that adjoins the pasture. We live in Central California so we have many hot days during the summer and would like a plan...
view the full question and answer

Non-toxic Groundcover for North-Central Texas
April 07, 2011 - I need a creeping ground cover for shade that is non-toxic to dogs. I had planned on Swedish ivy until I read it was toxic. Is Asian jasmine toxic? Or, do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Shrubs that non-toxic to horses but that they won't eat
October 29, 2011 - I am looking for a low maintenance, low water, green shrub that horses won't eat and will not be toxic to them. I want to hide my neighbors corral and keep down dust on my side. The horses have "l...
view the full question and answer

Non-poisonous Hedge for Southern California
November 27, 2010 - What is a non-poisonous (to dogs), fast-growing, evergreen plant that I can grow as a tall screening hedge for privacy? I find differing opinions on Carolina Cherry and Podocarpus gracilior. Thank you...
view the full question and answer

Foxglove safety from England
April 21, 2013 - Hi, regarding safety of foxgloves grown near edible plants - foxgloves are good companion plants for vegetables, in case of root vegetables they improve their storage life and quality. Foxgloves prote...
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.