Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

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

Tuesday - May 20, 2014

From: Cape May Court House , NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Pests, Poisonous Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Will Canada geese eat Asclepias tuberosa from Cape May Court, NJ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Will Canada geese eat my butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)? I know this plant is deer resistant. I really want to plant some on sandy bank near pond in my back yard, but I fear the geese will eat it since this variety does not contain the high quantity of milky sap that other milkweeds have.

ANSWER:

Not unless they are really dumb geese. From our webpage on Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed):

"Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: Roots, plant sap from all parts. Not edible. Toxic only if eaten in large quantities. Symptoms include vomiting, stupor, weakness, spasms. Toxic Principle: Resinoid, cardiac glycoside. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)"

This is a property that makes milkweeds valuable to butterflies, or more specifically, the caterpillars which are the butterfly children. The caterpillar is able to feed on the sap of the milkweed and transmit that poisonous trait to the butterflies, which then taste really bad to the birds that try to eat them.

We then went hunting for specific information on whether geese would eat milkweed. To be honest, we never found any specific information on a plant they would NOT eat, but on the other hand, we never found any information saying that they considered Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) to be a gourmet food.

From Ask.com, What Do Geese Eat?

"Geese are herbivores, which mean that they eat only plant products. They eat grass, grain, wheat, beans, corn, and rice. They also eat plants that grow around lakes and bodies of water."

From Native Plants Wildlife Gardens Help Monarchs with the Right Milkweeds. From  previous Mr. Smarty Plants question What Plants will Ducks and Geese Not Eat?

 

From the Image Gallery


Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

New Jersey Native Plants for a Raised Bed
April 15, 2015 - I want to plant some native plants in a raised bed in New Jersey along side a stucco wall that gets direct sun and is very dry due to an overhang. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Flowers for sandy soil and sun in Wharton Co., TX
March 23, 2010 - I live in Wharton County. I am looking for flowers to plant in beds that have sandy soil and are well drained. The area receives sun all day until 5-6 in the afternoon. I would like to have flowers t...
view the full question and answer

Drought-tolerant plants for landscaping
November 13, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Our HOA is wanting to change the landscaping to Drought-tolerant plants and flowers. The area is Grayson County, south of Sherman Texas. What plants and flowers would you su...
view the full question and answer

Identity of blue sage-like plant blooming in September in Lubbock TX
November 07, 2014 - This has bothered me for years. It looks like a miniature version of Salvia azure. About a foot talk with multiple stems. Flowering in September. Grows on the hillsides overlooking Buddy Holly Lak...
view the full question and answer

Native plants of Taos and Los Alamos NM from Houston
April 07, 2012 - Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, can you recommend a guidebook for the native plants of the Taos/Los Alamos region? (I'm most interested in forbs.) I'll be headed there in May--is there anything I should es...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.