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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Sunday - November 04, 2012

From: Thomasville, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Living fence line from Thomasville GA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I would like to create a natural fence line on my property in South Georgia. They need to be pretty dense and horse, cow, goat friendly, growing to a height of about 4ft, preferably quickly! Do you have any recommendations? Thanks in advance

ANSWER:

When you say you need plants that are horse, cow and goat friendly, we are assuming you mean non-poisonous to those animals. We can't recommend any that are friendly in terms that none of them will eat the plants, because at least one of those animals will eat anything that doesn't bite back. So, first we will introduce you to our Native Plant Database, and teach you how to search for shrubs that will do well in Thomas County Georgia. Second, we will provide you with access to lists of poisonous plants that you can check to avoid using any that might harm your animals.

The goal of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is to encourage the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they grow naturally. This helps to ensure that a plant will find itself in a soil compatible to its needs, as well as rainfall, climate and sunlight to which that native plant has become accustomed over centuries. Just in case you are new to raising these animals, you might be interested in these articles:

What Horses Eat

What Cows Eat

What Goats Eat

To begin, go to our Native Plant Database. Using the Combination Search, specify on the right hand side of the page the State as Georgia, Habit as shrub and you can further indicate evergreen, height and other criteria. The database may not have any plants that exactly fit all those requirements, so you will have to decide what characteristics you are willing to sacrifice. We will give you a list of possibilities that are native in or near to Thomas County; follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn all we know about it. If you scroll down that webpage, you will find a link to Google on that plant for further information. Much to our dismay, although we found 6 species of shrub that we though good possibilities, 4 of them had warnings of poisonous parts on our webpages and/or grew nowhere near Thomas County. We went back to our database and tried "trees" for Habit and again specified 6 to 12 ft., thinking they could be trained into shrub height. This brought exactly zero results.  Here is the pitiful short list we have to offer:

Agarista populifolia (Florida hobblebush) More information and pictures from Floridata

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)

So, what are your alternatives? We would suggest that you contact the University of Georgia Extension Office for Thomas County. Not only will they be familiar with the conditions in your area, but they have probably been asked this question before and will not be bound so much by nativity as by experience. You probably should still check the poisonous plants database anyway.

Databases to search (by scientific name) for plants poisonous to animals:

The Merck Veterinary Manual

ASPCA   

University of Arkansas 
 
University of Illinois  (common names only)    

Web site about Dobermans 

Toxic Plants of Texas

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina 

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

California Poison Action Line

FInding the plant listed is a good indication of toxicity. However, not finding the plant listed doesn't guarantee that it is non-toxic, but it increases the probability that it is. It is a good idea to check with your veterinarian.

 

From the Image Gallery


Florida hobblebush
Agarista populifolia

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

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