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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 - May 02, 2013

From: Belton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Trees
Title: Is any part of Mountain Laurel poisonous to goats from Belton TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We are considering planting Mountain Laurel in a field where we keep goats. Will any part of the Mountain Laurel be poisonous if eaten by the goats? If it would be poisonous, could you suggest some other options. We want to plant something evergreen to provide privacy. It would need to survive with rain water only, not be too tall & not create too much foliage mess for a swimming pool across the field. Thank you

ANSWER:

From our webpage on Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel):

"The brilliant, lacquer red seeds were valued by indigenous people for ornament and ceremonial use; they contain the highly poisonous alkaloid cytisine (or sophorine), a substance related to nicotine and widely cited as a narcotic and hallucinogen."

We have no experience with goats, but since we understand they will eat anything, we would not recommend planting Mountain Laurel. From this article What Do Goats Eat? we had it confirmed that they will eat lots of stuff, but liked pasture. Not being farmers, we don't know what "pasture" consists of, but we understand that you are looking for a privacy screen.

From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer:

"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, while others are not.  Other trees that are toxic to some livestock include some pines (Pinus spp.), some firs (Abies spp.), hemlocks (Tsuga spp.), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), spruces (Picea spp.) and junipers (Cupressus spp.)"

This previous answer has a list of sources to check there are no poisonous plants on the property."

Check out Edible and Poisonous Plants for Goats

From goatworld.com here is an article on Plants that Goats Won't Eat.


We will certainly recommend some shrubs and trees native to the area of Bell County TX and not considered poisonous, but we can't guarantee their survival. The above article refers to goat-proof fencing around to protect them from browsing, but once they get big enough to provide the screening you want, that is probably not going to be practical.The facts that you wanted evergreen and non-poisonous shrubs made it even more difficult. There are several members of the Ilex genus, including Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) and Ilex opaca (American holly) that would be perfect, except for this:


"Warning: All Ilex species may be somewhat toxic if ingested. 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."

Trees and Shrubs for Privacy Fencing in Bell County, TX:

Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri (Lindheimer's silktassel)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)

Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita)

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)

Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac)

 

From the Image Gallery


Lindheimer's silktassel
Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Agarita
Mahonia trifoliolata

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

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