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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 13, 2013

From: Bridgewater, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Shrubs
Title: Can animals eat bottlebrush buckeye without being poisoned?
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Can deer, bear and wild turkey and squirrels eat the nuts and leaves from the bottlebrush buckeye shrub without being posioned by it.


From our Native Plant Database page on Aesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush buckeye):

"Warning: Seeds and foliage of Aesculus species are poisonous to humans if eaten. 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."

This quotation only cites humans so we looked around to see what else we could find.

From Floridata:  

"The leaves and especially the seeds of bottlebrush buckeye are highly poisonous and ingestion could be fatal for people or livestock."

We are not sure that squirrels,  bears and turkeys count as livestock, but deer could.

From Dave's Garden: "Flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Rarely eaten by deer. Squirrels and chipmunks love the protein-rich nuts that ripen in the fall. "

From the same Forum: "Deer will eat them during winter so I have them in wire mesh that arent' seen during summer due to foliage. Deer prune them back naturally during winter. An acceptable arrangement."
From Alaska Fish and Wildlife News: How Deer Eat Poisonous Plants.
Conclusion: If you have Aesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush buckeye) and don't have dead bears, squirrels, turkeys and deer lying around, it must be working okay.

From the Image Gallery

Bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus parviflora

Bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus parviflora

Bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus parviflora

More Shrubs Questions

Dwarf Yaupon Holly Cultivar Heights
September 18, 2014 - What is the largest of the dwarf yaupons?
view the full question and answer

Non-native Sago Palm from Bulverde TX
June 12, 2012 - My husband's job has taken him out of state and he left me in charge of his 27 year old sago palms, (house plants, sort of bonsai). They waited until he left and then quite perversely sprouted 3 foo...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen Deck Plant for Oregon
May 29, 2011 - Need evergreen shrub to grow in shade in container 5ft tall for deck.
view the full question and answer

Shade loving plants with color for Irving, Texas
July 01, 2010 - Looking for shade loving perennials or annuals with color - native and low water. Live in Irving, Texas.
view the full question and answer

Blooming of native swamp azalea in New York
July 04, 2006 - I have a native swamp azalea, very healthy, but it has never bloomed. Do you know why or how I could get it to bloom?
view the full question and answer

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