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

Wednesday - July 06, 2011

From: Trabuco Canyon, CA
Region: California
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Trees
Title: Fast-growing tree for horse arena in Southern California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Trabuco Canyon, CA, and we just lost an old Sycamore in our horse arena. I would like to replace it with some thing that is fast growing, and will be able to withstand life around horses, our Santa Ana winds, and can do well in an extreme high fire danger area.

ANSWER:

The quintessential fast-growing trees are:  1)  Platanus racemosa (California sycamore) and here are photos and more information; and 2)  Populus fremontii (Fremont cottonwood) and here are photos and more information.  There is a male cultivar, 'Nimbus', that doesn't produce the "cotton".  The sycamore is listed on the Fire-Wise Plant Material for Sonoma County list.  Neither of these trees is evergreen.

 These next two trees are fast-growing evergreens for your area:  1)  Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. aspleniifolius (Fernleaf catalina ironwood) is fast-growing and evergreen.  Here are photos and more information.  2)  Pinus muricata (Bishop pine) and here are photos and more information.

 Here is information about fire effects for three of the trees from the US Forest Service database:

Sycamore:

"Surface fires in the bottomland forests in which sycamore occurs readily
kill saplings and seedlings of all species.  Larger trees are wounded by
fire; fire wounds act as vectors of disease, increasing rot and
decreasing plant vigor."

Cottonwood:

"Mature Fremont cottonwood trees are  top-killed by moderate fire.  The cambium layer is damaged by even low-severity surface fire.  In California, a severe wildland fire completely consumed the understory vegetation of a Fremont cottonwood community. Fremont cottonwoods that were top-killed by the fire were sprouting vigorously from the root crowns." 

Bishop Pine:

"Older trees have thick bark, which enables them to survive surface fire in woodlands and savannas."

Catalina ironwood was not included in the US Forest Service database.

You certainly don't want to plant your tree or trees and have the horses eat all the leaves, rub against the trunk and break it, or eat the bark.  Here is advice from a nursery in Texas about protecting newly planted trees from livestock and wildlife.

It is also important that your tree is not harmful in any way to the horses.   None of the above trees appears as toxic on the ASPCA Toxic and Non-toxic Plant List – Horses.  Trees that should be avoided for horse enclosures are:  Quercus spp. (oaks), Prunus spp. (cherries, chokecherries, peaches, apricots, plums, almonds), Acer spp. (maples) and Pinus ponderosa (Ponderosa pine).

You can check the following toxic databases for plants that could be potentially harmful to horses:

Cornell University's Plants Poisonous to Livestock

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

University of Pennsylvania's Poisonous Plants

Toxic Plants of Texas

 


 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

What to do if Mexican buckeye seeds are eaten
September 09, 2011 - What to do if seeds of the Mexican buckeye are eaten? I didn't know they were toxic. Please let me know as soon as you can. Thank you
view the full question and answer

Do palm trees put off a toxic smoke when burnt?
December 09, 2008 - do palm trees put off a toxic smoke when burnt
view the full question and answer

Food for a veiled chameleon in Columbus GA
May 20, 2011 - 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. ...
view the full question and answer

Toxicity of Peruvian Lilies (Alstroemeria sp) for food decoration
September 04, 2006 - Hi, I am trying to find out if I can decorate a cake using live alstroemeria laid on top of the icing. I would not want to eat the flower, just lay it on top to look pretty before removing and servi...
view the full question and answer

Poisonous plant in Ohio with hydrangea-like flower
June 09, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I was sure that I had read that there is a poisonous bush that is native to Ohio that has flowers something like a white hydrangea..or was it queen ann's lace? I believe the ...
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