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

Thursday - April 10, 2008

From: Rigby, ID
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Fast growing trees in Idaho
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I want to plant fast-growing trees on my property in Idaho. What trees are poisonous to horses and dogs? I am particularly interested in the Royal Empress (Paulowmia) tree and the dogwood tree.

ANSWER:

We don't like to start out with discouraging words, but Paulownia tomentosa is NOT a good choice. We have been asked about it several times, and would like for you to read a previous answer from Mr. Smarty Plants on the subject. Next, read this site from the Plant Conservation Alliance "Least Wanted" List. It appears that some have already escaped cultivation and invaded Idaho; but, under the circumstances, we certainly hope you do not contribute to the problem. The tree is a native of China and, as such, is not normally in the purview of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Our focus and concentration is on plants native to North America; however, we are very interested in invasive plants, especially non-native invasives.

Now, on to the dogwoods, genus Cornus. We found fourteen species of Cornus on our Native Plant Database, of which four can apparently be grown in Idaho.

Cornus canadensis (bunchberry dogwood) This is really a low-growing groundcover type of bush, probably not what you had in mind.

Cornus nuttallii (Pacific dogwood) This USDA Plants Profile shows the areas in Idaho where this species is growing naturally. It is a deciduous tree up to 40 feet tall that does best between 3000 and 8000 feet in altitude. Unfortunately, it is very susceptible to dogwood anthracnose, which has killed many larger plants in the wild and also restricts its use as an ornamental tree.

Cornus sericea (redosier dogwood) Both of these sericea dogwoods are recommended for Idaho, and are useful for erosion control.

Cornus sericea ssp. sericea (redosier dogwood)

Since none of these seem to be the perfect choice, how about some alternatives? First, for the Empress Tree. We went to our Invasives website and found four alternatives to this tree; unfortunately, none of them are recommended for Idaho. So, we went shopping in the Recommended Species for Idaho section and have four tree suggestions. We realize that you wanted fast-growing, blooming trees, but it may be that is not going to happen in Idaho.

Acer grandidentatum (bigtooth maple)

Betula occidentalis (water birch)

Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine)

Prunus virginiana (chokecherry)

And, finally, your question about what trees are poisonous to horses and dogs. Rather than reproduce the list, let us refer you to this Poisonous Plants Informational Database from Cornell University.


Cornus canadensis

Cornus nuttallii

Cornus sericea

Cornus sericea ssp. sericea

Acer grandidentatum

Betula occidentalis

Pinus contorta

Prunus virginiana

 

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Is Savannah Holly poisonous to burn in Hanahan, SC.?
August 20, 2011 - Can you please tell me if the wood from a savannah holly bush is poisonous to burn?
view the full question and answer

Photinia toxicity to dogs
June 15, 2009 - is the photinia bush toxic to dogs??
view the full question and answer

Lupinus perennis Poisonous to Dogs?
April 14, 2013 - I have heard that some lupine varieties are quite poisonous to dogs, others are not. Do you know if it's safe for my dogs if I plant and encourage Lupinus perennis in my NH meadow?
view the full question and answer

How to get Poison Ivy?
November 22, 2015 - I know this is a silly question but we have a lot of poison ivy in the area and I know that birds eat the seeds and berries, can you get poison ivy from bird poop or track it in the house? From shoes ...
view the full question and answer

GMO/GE crops killing wildflowers and insects
October 31, 2008 - Hi, I've read where GMO/GE crops in other countries were killing the wildflowers and insects adjacent to those fields. Have you had any reports of this North America. Best regards.
view the full question and answer

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