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?

Share

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

Monday - December 09, 2013

From: Oxford , PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Shrubs
Title: Shrubs not toxic to cattle in NJ
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I am working to rejuvenate the hedgerows on a farm in New Jersey by removing invasive plants and planting native shrubs. How do I find out which native shrubs are toxic to cattle and should not be planted in the hedgerows?

ANSWER:

We applaud your efforts.  By removing inavsive plants and planting native shrubs you are providing important (and at times scarce) habitat food and shelter for many native species of birds, insects and small mammals.

The Cornell University Department of Animal Science has a published an extensive list of plants that are poisonous to livestock.  Click here for the list of plants poisonous to cattle.  When you examine it closely you will see that most of them are herbaceous plants but many of them are native to your area that could get established within your hedgerow

Allium canadense (Meadow garlic)

Asclepias syriaca (Common milkweed)

Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed)

There are actually not many shrubs on the list that you would be considering but there are a  few you should avoid, such as:

Aesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush buckeye) whose fruits are poisonous

Prunus serotina (Black cherry) and the other wild cherries native to your area such as pin cherry and choke cherry whose seeds and leaves are poisonous, and

Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis (Common elderberry) whose leaves, twigs, roots and unripe fruit are poisonous (but cooked elderberry fruit in jellies and pies is harmless and tasty!)

That being said, there are plenty of good plants to choose from.  If you visit out Native Plant Database and perform a Combination Search, selecting New Jersey/Shrub and the sizes 3-6 ft, 6-12 ft and even 12-36ft,  it will generate a large list to select from.  You can also narrow it further according to specific light and soil conditions as you wish.

What you ultimately plant will be dependant on what is available in the trade and the size of your budget but here are a few of my favorites.

Amelanchier arborea (Common serviceberry) which blooms early in the spring, produces berries that birds (and people) love and has great fall color

Ceanothus herbaceus (Redroot) whose flowers and berries are great for butterflies and birds, but doesn't really color up in the fall

Cornus sericea (Redosier dogwood) whose red twigs bring color to the drab winter landscape, berries support many tupes of fowl and spreading habit will help fill in the hedgerow

Morella pensylvanica (Northern bayberry) whose waxy berries are eaten by many winter birds and used by humans for making traditional candles

Physocarpus opulifolius (Atlantic ninebark) which is tough but attractive with yellow fall colour and red fruit that the birds like, and

Rhus glabra (Smooth sumac) which many people detest because of its suckering habit (maybe just what you need?) but has awesome fall colour and fruit that is not only ornamental but beneficial and high in Vitamin C.  The Chickadees enjoy mine all winter long.

And now for the bad news ... these plants won't harm your cattle, provide wildlife benefits and are ornamental ... but the deer will browse on most of them. 

 

From the Image Gallery


Meadow garlic
Allium canadense

Common milkweed
Asclepias syriaca

American pokeweed
Phytolacca americana

Bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus parviflora

Black cherry
Prunus serotina

Common elderberry
Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis

Common serviceberry
Amelanchier arborea

Redroot
Ceanothus herbaceus

Redosier dogwood
Cornus sericea

Northern bayberry
Morella pensylvanica

Atlantic ninebark
Physocarpus opulifolius

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

More Shrubs Questions

Need a good plant for Clayton, NC.
August 23, 2012 - What would be a good plant for Clayton,NC for this time of year. I would like for it to come back every year so I don't have to replant. I have several full sun areas that I need to cover in the fron...
view the full question and answer

Low water hedge for Sedona, AZ
August 19, 2009 - I'm looking for a shrub to plant along a 90' property line with my neighbor in Sedona, Arizona (high desert). Ideally, the shrub would grow to about 8' and would not require too much water. What wo...
view the full question and answer

Colorful shrubs for Kansas
June 02, 2009 - I would like to plant some bushes or shrubs on the front side of our house which faces east. I would like them to grow 5' tall and provide beautiful color or blooms. What would be best for my locat...
view the full question and answer

Repotting of lemon cypress for drainage
October 26, 2008 - Hi, I bought a lemon cypress tree in a nice tin, It is in Plastic and the bottom has about 1.5" of water with no drainage in the plastic or tin. It will be kept inside. Does the plant need to be in...
view the full question and answer

Leaves on yaupon holly turning brown/black
July 20, 2011 - Arlington TX Yaupon Holly has leaves on stems closer to the bottom of the plant and moving up that are turning brown/black. Is this a disease, over/under watering? There is black gummy soil, but it ha...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center