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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - August 21, 2013

From: Kempner, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Trees
Title: Shade trees not toxic to dogs in Kempner TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Dear Mr Smarty Plants, we are looking for shade trees to plant around our home in Kempner, Tx. I saw another family that asked a similar question but we have dogs and holly or oak trees are toxic (my pups eat everything). Can you recommend some pet friendly varieties to provide shade for my puppies? Our yard is high alkaline and full of limestone, we get a fairly common 10 mph wind, no trees yet and tons of sun. Thanks in advance for your advice!!


The ASPCA Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List – Dogs doesn't list oaks as being toxic to dogs.  Certainly, they aren't to deer since they feast on the acorns and tender leaves.    However, Poisonous Plants of North Carolina, which is aimed at humans says that raw acorns can cause problem but  "causes only low toxicity if eaten".  Pennsylvania's Poisonous Plants and Cornell University's Plants Poisonous to Livestock, which are focused on livestock, list it as toxic with horses and cattle being the most often affected.  The ASPCA list does say that Ilex opaca (American holly) and Ilex aquifolium (European holly) are toxic to dogs.  We can find you shade trees, however, that are neither oaks or hollies and are not toxic to dogs.

Ulmus americana (American elm)  Here is more information from Texas A&M's Tree Planting Guide.

Ulmus crassifolia (Cedar elm)  Here is more information from Texas A&M's Texax Tree Planting Guide.

Fraxinus albicans [synonym=Fraxinus albicans] (Texas ash)   Here is more information from Texas A&M's Tree Planting Guide.

Carya illinoinensis (Pecan)  Here is more information from Texas A&M's Texas Tree Planting Guide.

Juglans microcarpa (Little walnut)  Pennsylvania's Poisonous Plants database says that Juglans nigra (Black walnut) is toxic to horses.  Here is more information from Texas A&M's Texas Tree Planting Guide.

Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite)  Here is more information from the Texas Tree Planting Guide.


From the Image Gallery

American elm
Ulmus americana

Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

Texas ash
Fraxinus albicans

Carya illinoinensis

Little walnut
Juglans microcarpa

Honey mesquite
Prosopis glandulosa

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Are beautyberry bushes toxic to horses?
October 12, 2011 - Are beautyberry bushes toxic to horses?
view the full question and answer

Non-toxic trees for cattle, horses and swine in Washington state.
December 04, 2015 - What non-toxic trees can be planted in cattle pastures in Central Washington? We also have horses and swine on the property.
view the full question and answer

Identification of potentially toxic weed in California
May 08, 2015 - Hi! Sorry about the error, I'm not very computer savvy! I have a weed that grows on my land; about 1 foot tall its flower looks like a Q-tip. My neighbor says it killed her horse! I can't find i...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub/small tree with small purple fruit
July 31, 2013 - Hi! I have a tree/bush that has come up on its own in the backyard. This year it set what looks like small purple plums. Is there any chance that they might be poisonous?
view the full question and answer

Wintering over an Angel Trumpet in Kentucky
September 20, 2008 - I have an Angel Trumpet on my deck in LaGrange,Ky -Can I plant it out in the yard now or do I have to take it in the house for the winter- It is 5 feet tall and I have no room in the house! Help!-Than...
view the full question and answer

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