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?


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
1 rating

Wednesday - April 10, 2013

From: Friendswood, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Poisonous Plants, Shrubs
Title: Toxicity of non-native red-tip photinia to fish from Friendswood TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Mr. Smarty Plants, I have seen several questions on Red Tip Photinia (RTP) concerning toxicity to horses, dogs and children. We recently lost over 100 gold fish and 6 large KOI in our man made back yard pond that we have had 8 years. I see an abundance of the RTP blossoms in the pond and an oil sheen in the water. My question is, are this blossoms toxic to fish?


Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer that tells you what we think of Red-Tip Photinias. As it happens, we are committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow natively; in your case, Galveston and Harris Counties. PLANTS, that is, we don't know much of anything about fish except how to fry them.

We found a website from the Koi and Water Garden Society of Central New York on Plants Poisonous to Fish. Photinia is not on that list; in fact, we don't think we have seen it claimed to be poisonous to horses, dogs and children. We think you should look around at some websites on possible contamination on the water in that pool. We have no experience with fish ponds, having grown up in West Texas, where there is not much water for anything, but it occurs to us that the oil sheen in the water would be a warning sign, and not something that could have been caused by the photinia. For instance, has anyone been spraying pesticides and/or herbicides in your area lately?


More Shrubs Questions

How can I distinguish Hibiscus laevis from Pavonia braziliensis in New Braunfels, TX?
September 12, 2011 - How can I distinguish Hibiscus laevis (Halberdleaf Hibiscus) from Pavonia braziliensis (Brazillian Rock Rose)? Earlier this year I was given the former by a friend and former NPSOT chap...
view the full question and answer

Protecting hibiscus from cold in Eastern Washington State
July 28, 2006 - I recently purchased a Hibiscus Brilliant Red. I planted it in an area of my garden that will give it full sun for most of the day. In the Pacific Northwest where I live (Eastern Washington) it can ge...
view the full question and answer

Care of Northern honeysuckle bush
April 26, 2009 - I have a honeysuckle bush, I have had it for about year to two years. I would like to know if I should cut the brown parts off. There are some vines that do not look good, but some of the branches ha...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs to stabilize steep slope in California
February 03, 2010 - Suggest shrubs to stabilize steep bank that are drought resistant and resistant to too much rain. Cape honeysuckle? oleander? bottle brush? What?
view the full question and answer

Winter-interest plants in Wynnewood PA
July 11, 2010 - Could you please suggest flowering plants that provide winter interest after drying out (ie with seed pods or interesting dried flower heads)? I'm looking for something that grows in full sun. Thank ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center