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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - April 30, 2011

From: Clovis, CA
Region: California
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Are any cherry trees poisonous from Clovis CA?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Are there some cherry trees that are poisonous? if so, how do you identify them?

ANSWER:

All members of the Prunus genus, which includes cherries, are poisonous. All members of this  genus carry the same warning about the ingestion of leaves, twigs or seeds of fruit. These parts of the plants contain cyanogenic glycoside or cyanogens that are highly toxic and may be fatal if eaten. Cyanogenic glycosides are changed into free cyanide either in plant material that has been damaged or in the gastrointestinal tracts of animals. It is most severe in ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats, deer) but is also very dangerous for animals with single stomachs (e.g., dogs, cats, horses, pigs).

Remembering that humans count as animals, too, be aware that while children might not browse on wilted cherry tree leaves, they certainly might swallow some of the seeds of the fruit (the flesh of which is not poisonous) and suffer ill effects.

 

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