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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - March 28, 2013

From: Grants Pass, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Memorial Tree Safe for Horses in Oregon
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hi! I just lost my 33 year old beloved mare, Glory! She was my childhood horse and we have had her basically her whole life. We are looking for a special tree out in the pasture for her! She is buried between her 2 sons who both have willow trees on top of them. We wanted something extra special for her but it has to be horse safe. Any suggestions? Thank you!

ANSWER:

As a horse-owner myself, I'm very sorry for your loss.  We're happy to help.

The tree you ultimately choose to memorialize Glory's final resting place will be largely a matter of personal choice, so rather than making a specific recommendation for a species to use, we think you would be better served knowing some trees to avoid.

First, do not plant any trees in the rose family.  This includes cherries, plums, apples, pears and several other common trees.  Under certain conditions, their leaves can be very poisonous to livestock.  Likewise, trees in the genus, Juglans, such as walnuts and butternuts should be avoided.  Neither yew trees (Taxus spp.) nor oaks (Quercus spp.) should be used.  Finally, some maples (Acer spp.), such as red maple (Acer rubrum) are quite toxic to horses, while others are not.  Other trees that are toxic to some livestock, but not necessarily horses include some pines (Pinus spp.), some firs (Abies spp.), hemlocks (Tsuga spp.), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), spruces (Picea spp.) and junipers (Cupressus spp.)

Some native trees in your area that might work for you are Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum), dogwoods (Cornus spp.), buckthorns (Frangula spp.) and Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii).  Before making a final decision, you should research online the tree you wish to use, check with your equine vet and ask some of your horse-owning friends about it.

 

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