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?


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

Tuesday - June 05, 2012

From: Muskegon, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Problem Plants, Trees
Title: Toxicity of catalpa wood?
Answered by: Guy Thompson


Is the sawdust from cutting up a catalpa tree or the smoke from burning the wood toxic? Thank you,


I have found a number of Internet sources that discuss the possibility of toxicity of Catalpa speciosa (Northern catalpa), but there seems to be little evidence to support the allegation.  The US Dept. of Agriculture web site does not mention toxicity as a problem.  But to be on the safe side, it might be advisable to wear a mask when Catalpa wood dust or fragments are in the air.


From the Image Gallery

Northern catalpa
Catalpa speciosa

More Trees Questions

Problems with volunteer tree in Joshua TX
February 15, 2012 - I have a 'volunteer' tree which has been in our back yard for about 15 years. It has had the usual traumas, ie. lots of snow, ice, etc. but after last years drought, its bark is coming off and sev...
view the full question and answer

Willows native to Wisconsin
July 01, 2005 - I have a small garden center in the far northern reaches of Wisconsin....and I specialize in native varieties for up here. I also help folks with lake shore restoration and preservation. There was...
view the full question and answer

Restoring disturbed land in Marshall, TX.
December 04, 2014 - I have a 30 acre tract of land in Marshall, Texas. The oil company has turned 2-3 acres surrounding the rig into gravel. I would like to return the gravel area to green space. Any suggestions on gras...
view the full question and answer

Is it live oak sprouts or parasites from Austin
April 30, 2011 - You must get tired of questions about "Live Oak sprouts." I just read your recent Q&A about this. But I'm getting mixed info about whether the "sprouts" are actually Live Oak growth of some sort ...
view the full question and answer

Can Texas Ebony seed pods be used as mulch in Edinburg TX
May 10, 2010 - I just bought a house with two large Texas ebony trees out front. I read somewhere that the seed pods could be used as mulch? Is this true? If so, would I need to remove the seeds from the pods fir...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center