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 20, 2011

From: Columbus, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Food for a veiled chameleon in Columbus GA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi I own a Veiled Chameleon, and have been recently searching for different options as to live plant use for their cage. It has pretty much come down to using hibiscus plants and only hibicus plants. So I have been looking for a bonzai style hibiscus because half the beauty of owning a chameleon is the fact that you can appreciate it as a living decoration. There isn't too many hibiscus bonzais but the one I keep coming across is malvaviscus arboreus. I've never heard of another chameleon owner using this particular species. Chameleons are very sensitive to their environment, and even mild toxicity can be a death sentence. Many chameleons, especially veiled's, will eat plants to add a little vitamin variety to their insect diet. I was wondering if the malvaviscus arboreus is toxic at all? Even mild? And if you think it would be safe to house it along with a chameleon. Thanx in advance.

ANSWER:

We understand that you are looking for a plant, preferably a hibiscus, to form as a bonsai for your chameleon's cage. Since we are not lizard experts, and are not even sure we can find a list of plants poisonous to reptiles, we will stick to what we know about, which is native plants. Is Malvaviscus arboreus (Turkscap) a candidate for bonsai? Probably not. Even a candidate for indoor growth in a cage? Definitely not.

Don't get us wrong, Turkscap is one of our favorite plants. It is native to Georgia and a perennial. For a partly shady or shady spot, especially where you want to attract hummingbirds, we would recommend it. However, it grows from 3 to 6 ft. tall (and taller, if it likes the spot), deciduous, blooms red July to September, and its native habitat is disturbed areas. It is classified as a coarse shrub, with heart-shaped leaves up to 5" or more in length. Pictures.

Now, the zinger. Malvaviscus arboreus (Turkscap) is not even a hibiscus, but a member of the Malvavaceae (Mallow) family. If you follow the above plant link to our webpage on this plant, you will see that one of its common names is "sleeping hibiscus," we don't know why, common names are a constant puzzle. We think you will agree that this is not a candidate for bonsai nor indoor use, nor a chameleon's cage.

Since we know less about the practice of bonsai than we do about lizards, here is an article from the Dallas Bonsai Gardens, The Bonsai Site. In an attempt to acquire a little knowledge about the animal in question, we found a very good article from kingsnake.com The Veiled Chameleon: Purchase and Captive Care. The plants recommended are not native, but then, neither is the veiled chameleon. You would be much safer taking advice about plants not harmful to your pet from those experts than from us.  Pictures of veiled chameleon from Google.

 

 

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

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 leaves of banana trees poisonous?
August 10, 2008 - are the leaves of banana trees poisonous? the tree will be in a preschool classroom How do i care for the tree?
view the full question and answer

Remedy for sore finger scratched by an Agave plant
October 18, 2013 - I scratched my ring finger on a Agave plant this afternoon. It did bring blood to the surface and i washed it off. Where the scratch is, is very tender and it is swollen and tingles. Any suggestions f...
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

Dwarf oyster plant dying in Sunrise FL
July 06, 2012 - WHAT WOULD BE KILLING MY DWARF OYSTER PLANTS
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