Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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 - December 18, 2008

From: St. Marys, , PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Are hollies toxic?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Can I use holly from my landscaping to decorate food at Christmas?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants assumes you mean our native Ilex opaca (American holly) with its beautiful red berries.  The North Carolina Poisonous Plants Database says that the berries in large quantities from Ilex opaca can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  The Canadian Poisonous Plants Informations System agrees about the toxicity of Ilex opaca and also lists the berries of the English holly, Ilex aquifolium as being toxic.  The foliage of these two hollies, apparently, is not poisonous.  So, Mr. Smarty Plants recommends that you not put any berries on plates, platters or other containers with foods.  You might decorate tables/counters with the holly, but make sure the berries aren't in place where they might be considered a food item by children and pets—or adults, for that matter.

Ilex opaca

Ilex opaca

 

 

More Trees Questions

Tree Lost Leaves
September 05, 2013 - Are leaf cutter ants found in Michigan too? My leaves are being completely stripped off the tree. It went from growing very well when we planted it, to having completely no leaves at all. I know the l...
view the full question and answer

Native trees for Medford MA
April 07, 2011 - Two quick questions. 1) what trees would grow happily along the banks of the Mystic River in Medford, MA? 2) Would it be o.k. to plant weeping willows? Are they indigenous to the area? I'm not a pur...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen Privacy Screen for Maryland
November 19, 2012 - I am looking for an evergreen that will suffice to be planted as a privacy screen between my property and my neighbors. Looking to plant a row at the property line. The lot is shaded most of the d...
view the full question and answer

Shade trees for Tucson AZ
May 25, 2012 - I need to plant some "fast growing" trees or shrubs on my southwest yard in order to reduce the heat in my bedroom. What do you suggest? I live in Tucson, Arizona. Thank you in advance. I'm...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native citrus trees from Mesa AZ
January 13, 2014 - We have one valencia orange tree and one naval orange tree in our Mesa, AZ yard. Just noticed some oranges on both trees have a 1/4 inch diameter hole through the skin and the orange fruit and skin a...
view the full question and answer

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