En EspaŅol

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
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

Saturday - September 17, 2011

From: Waynesboro, VA
Region: Select Region
Topic: Edible Plants, Poisonous Plants, Trees
Title: Could hickory leaves be used as seasoning from Waynesboro VA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a hickory tree. If I pull a leaf off and rip it then smell, there is a strong wonderful scent of hickory much like when I rip a mint leaf there is a strong smell of mint. So my question is, can I use the leaves from the hickory tree as a seasoning agent in a similar way as I would use mint leaves? I've searched everywhere and couldn't find anything about the use of the hickory leaves. I can't imagine, with as strong as they smell, that they wouldn't work as a seasoning but I just don't know about the safety of using them, especially since I couldn't find anything online about people using the leaves, it makes me wonder if it is safe. Thanks!

ANSWER:

There are 7 hickories native to Virginia. We chose Carya ovata (Shagbark hickory) as our example. Our Native Plant Database has no indication that members of the genus Carya are poisonous. Here are a few databases of poisonous plants you could look at; it is always better to search on the scientific name (Carya ovata). Ordinarily, you could assume that if it did not appear in a few databases, it will probably not appear in any, but if you are going to feed this to your family, perhaps it would do well to be more cautious. It occurs to us that perhaps the reason you see no recipes for cooking with hickory leaves is that they are not very good. If you feel comfortable that they are not poisonous you might cook one and eat it yourself; better get a bad taste in your mouth than serve it to guests. I always think of vanilla-smells like heaven and tastes terrible.

From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer:

"Whenever Mr. Smarty Plants gets questions about toxic plants, he checks out these databases to look for answers.

The Merck Veterinary Manual

ASPCA   

University of Arkansas 
 
University of Illinois  (common names only)    

Web site about Dobermans 

Toxic Plants of Texas

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina 

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

California Poison Action Line

 

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Is Clethra alnifolia toxic to dogs?
June 01, 2013 - Is Clethra alnifolia toxic to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Skin irritation caused by blanket flower (Gaillardia sp.)
January 29, 2005 - Could you tell me whether it is the leaves or the spent flower heads, the seed heads, that cause irritation to bare legs after walking through a field of Indian Blankets? Gallardia I believe is the La...
view the full question and answer

Replacing Drought-Stricken Cedars
January 16, 2012 - Hello, I live in Williamson County on a couple acres. We have several dead cedars as a result of drought; we're reluctant to cut them down because many of them provide a friendly barrier between us...
view the full question and answer

Need information about the toxicity of some newly acquired plants in Austin, TX
January 04, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I just got a Carolina Buckthorn tree, a silk tassel, a wafer ash, and an escarpment black cherry tree. I wonder if any of these trees produce berries that would be poisonous to ...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly Garden, non-poisonous to Dogs, in Taylor MI
March 27, 2014 - I have a small fenced yard with a patio that my dogs have free access to. I would like to create a butterfly garden and add other plants that are non toxic to my dachshunds. Any suggestions. I am f...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center