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

Friday - October 16, 2009

From: North, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Shade tree for horses in North Virginia
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I need to plant a shade tree for my horses and am considering a fast growing tree called an Empress Tree(paulownia). It would be outside of their fenced area but close enough to provide shade for them. Would any part of the plant be toxic to them if eaten? Is there a better choice for what I need?

ANSWER:

Anything would be better than Paulownia tomentosa, also known as Royal Empress or Princess tree. As a non-native, the Royal Empress Tree is not in our Native Plant Database. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we concentrate on plants native to North America. Paulownia tomentosa is not only non-native but is considered invasive in many parts of this country.

We will go to our Recommended Species section, and look for some trees native to your area of North Virginia. We will check with these databases for the possibility of being poisonous to horses of whatever trees we choose, eliminating any that we feel could be a problem. You could do the same and make your own selection and check that selection against these databases. Also, read this article from Trailblazer Magazine Poisonous Plants by Willis Lamm. 

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

Toxic Plants of Texas 

University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

Toxic Plants: Horses from the ASPCA

These trees were all checked and found to be native to northern Virginia and were not on any of the toxic plants lists. 

Shade trees safe for horses native to North Virginia:

Fraxinus americana (white ash)

Liriodendron tulipifera (tuliptree)

Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Fraxinus americana

Liriodendron tulipifera

Platanus occidentalis

 

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Privacy hedge for shady area
March 27, 2009 - We are looking to plant a privacy hedge around the perimeter of our yard that will grow to 6 or 8 feet tall - some of the perimeter is exposed to sun and we will likely go with evergreen sumac - howev...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen, deer resistant privacy screen for Villanova PA
March 29, 2013 - Looking for something that is deer resistant and ideally evergreen to block a shed and fence that my neighbor recently installed. Live in Eastern PA. Not the best drainage and also shade for most of...
view the full question and answer

Evergreens for privacy in VA
June 24, 2012 - I need fast growing evergreens or large shrubs, flowering or non-flowering, for privacy. They will need to flourish among large oak and hickory trees that are 75 plus years old. We don't want to dama...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant evergreens for privacy shield in Louisville KY
March 10, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Our property is adjacent to the highway for ~ 200ft. I'm looking for partial-to-full shade tolerant evergreens that will grow to be relatively tall. Our soil is clay and g...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a shady garden in Wisconsin
June 22, 2009 - I have a shady garden in southeastern Wisconsin (Milwaukee) and am interested in introducing more native plants of all sizes and heights, hopefully with lovely flowers. I would love to know what you ...
view the full question and answer

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