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
1 rating

Thursday - July 05, 2012

From: Okeechobee, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Trees
Title: Fast-growing, Horse-safe Pasture Tree for Okeechobee, FL
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I'm looking for a fast growing tree to plant in pasture that's safe for horses.


Because horses are famously adept at finding ways to hurt themselves or make themselves sick, we're always careful how we answer questions like yours.  Even seemly innocuous objects can harm horses in certain situations. 

In addition to protecting your horses from your trees, you should give some consideration to protecting your newly-planted trees from your horses until the trees are large enough to withstand the rubbing and chewing that will very likely occur.

First, it's important to know what you very definitely do not want in your pasture or along your fencelines.  Keep no species of cherries or plums (Prunus spp.) anywhere near your pastures.  In certain circumstances the foliage of these trees can be fatally toxic to horses and other livestock.  Avoid most nut-bearing trees as they can cause colic and sometimes other maladies.  Red maple (Acer rubrum) should be avoided due to toxicity.  Though it's doubtful that Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) grows in your area, it should also be kept out of your pastures.

Pines (Pinus spp.) are generally safe and fast-growing as is American Elm (Ulmus americana).  However, it would be a very good idea to ask your equine vet about any guidance he or she can give you.  You might also talk to other horse-owners in your area for their recommendations.  Finally, Equisearch has published some excellent guidelines that might be helpful.


More Trees Questions

Should Texas live oaks be mulched under drought conditions?
July 19, 2011 - Should we mulch our live oaks in pastures for water retention?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen replacement for liveoaks with oak wilt in Austin
January 26, 2008 - One day after moving into our very first home and first home in Texas (just north of the Wildflower center in Sendera Southwest Austin) we discovered that all of our Live Oaks have Oak Wilt. After tre...
view the full question and answer

red maple bark damage by squirrels
April 15, 2011 - We have two acres of land, largely covered by various oaks and cherry laurels -and, after many hours of cutting down chinese tallow trees..finally some red maples. Our problem is that we also have a s...
view the full question and answer

Need help with a Pecan tree that has been topped in Austin, TX.
July 06, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants! I have a pecan tree on my property that was topped by the previous owners. I have searched high and low for information on how to correctly prune a tree that has already been ...
view the full question and answer

Viability of Desert Willow and Hong Kong Orchid Tree in Spring Branch, TX
December 26, 2006 - We live in Spring Branch, Rt 281 north of San Antonio. We want to plant a Regal Desert Willow tree and a Hong Kong Orchid tree. Will the cold / freeze be a problem? Where locally can we purchase th...
view the full question and answer

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