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

Friday - December 30, 2005

From: Seattle, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Local native plant for grave marker in Washington
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear wildflower expert, Our friendís dog died, and is buried in western Washington, near the town of Monroe. My wife is from central Texas, and thought a Texas perennial would be a nice marker. We thought the lobelia cardinalis would be a beautiful plant, but have read it is toxic to livestock. Is it also toxic to dogs and cats? Can you suggest a suitable, flowering perennial? The site gets over 30 inches of rain per year, some snow in the winter, and the ground can freeze a few inches deep. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

The cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is listed as toxic to humans and livestock by the Poisonous Plants Databases of the Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility and the University of Pennsylvania. It is not specifically listed as toxic to pets, but that does not necessarily mean that is safe for them.

Planting a native plant on the grave of your friend's dog would be a lovely tribute. Lobelia cardinalis is a beautiful plant native to Texas; however, it isn't native to western Washington and the Northwest and is not likely to grow very well there, if at all. Perhaps you could consider a local native plant for the tribute to your friend's dog. The Washington Native Plant Society has a list of Pacific Northwest Plants for Western Washington Gardens that offers alternatives. One possibility from the list is Sitka columbine (Aquilegia formosa). You also can find information and photos of plants on the list in the Native Plants Database on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center web page. The Washington Native Plant Society also offers a list of native plant and seed resources for the state.

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Winter trimming of Greggs mistflower
November 11, 2007 - Do I cut my gregg's mist back to the ground for the winter or just leave it alone?
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade, poor soil in Park Ridge NJ
June 17, 2010 - Hello! I live in far northeast New Jersey, by the New York state border. I am looking for plants for areas of my lawn that nothing currently grows in - due to shade and poor soil quality - very rocky,...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers in Bloom in Hudson Valley NY in July
May 19, 2015 - We are hosting a rustic wedding on July 11, and we would like to decorate with wildflowers. We live in rural NY state, in the Mid-Hudson Valley, and there are many sites from which to pick wildflowers...
view the full question and answer

Food Allergy to Beautyberry or Persimmon?
October 22, 2015 - I think I might have a food allergy to Beautyberry or American Persimmon, eaten Saturday at the North Carolina Great Dismal park. These were the only strange foods recently, though I've had persimmo...
view the full question and answer

killing clover in Bandera
March 19, 2016 - How may one kill clover while not killing native wild flowers in one's lawn?
view the full question and answer

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