En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Does Helasia diptera absorb toxic substances from Dover Plains NY

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

Friday - March 09, 2012

From: Dover Plains, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Does Helasia diptera absorb toxic substances from Dover Plains NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Plants, Halesia carolina is described as absorbing toxic substances: herbicides, pesticides and pollutants from water, air and soil. Does Halesia diptera do the same? Thank you.

ANSWER:

We believe you may have misinterpreted the following paragraph from our webpage on Halesia carolina (Carolina silverbell):

"Warning: Raw seeds are poisonous and can be fatal to humans and animals. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a person’s age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plant’s different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil."

This is meant as a caution against consuming any part of this plant because they can absorb toxic substances and transmit them to a pet or child that chose to eat them; not that it could be used to clean or de-toxify any particular part of the environment.

Halesia diptera (Two-wing silverbell)Halesia tetraptera (Mountain silverbell) and Halesia tetraptera var. monticola (Mountain silverbell) have no such warnings on their webpage. We did some research to see if this trait was common to other members of the genus Halesia, and found none.  As you can see from this USDA Plant Profile Map, only Halesia tetraptera (Mountain silverbell) is native to New York State.

In short, these plants can absorb a small amount of pollutants for their own protection, but are not a solution to pollution. Also, the plants would be only too glad to pass those pollutants on to any organism swallowing them. However, if you were just concerned with whether it was safe to plant the Halesia tetraptera (Mountain silverbell), we could find no documentation that it was not. From Ohio State University, here is more information. Pictures

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Native Plants Toxic to Dogs?
April 22, 2014 - Are society garlic, Salvia greggii, black escarpment cherries, and wine cup wildflowers toxic to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Jimsonweed and its toxic nature
June 21, 2011 - I purchased a Jimson weed plant at a local plant sale at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center this spring and was quite surprised at how quickly & large it grew. After the first round of flowers fa...
view the full question and answer

Is Sucissa pratensis (Devil's bit scabious) allelopathic?
July 04, 2013 - Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center pointed me to you. Can you comment on Devil's Bit Scabious? A neighbor pointed out these volunteer plants in my yard and wants me to kill them. He called them Devi...
view the full question and answer

Is non-native mascagnia macroptera poisonous to animals from Hockley TX
February 17, 2014 - Is Mascagmia macroptra (Butterfly Vine) poisonous to animals (horses and dogs)?
view the full question and answer

Grasses for horses in Austin
October 27, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants We just bought 4.5 acres in Travis County off HWY 290. We have 3 horses we keep on it but there is very little grass in the pastures. What is the best type of grass to seed ...
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