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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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Wednesday - April 10, 2013

From: Friendswood, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Poisonous Plants, Shrubs
Title: Toxicity of non-native red-tip photinia to fish from Friendswood TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, I have seen several questions on Red Tip Photinia (RTP) concerning toxicity to horses, dogs and children. We recently lost over 100 gold fish and 6 large KOI in our man made back yard pond that we have had 8 years. I see an abundance of the RTP blossoms in the pond and an oil sheen in the water. My question is, are this blossoms toxic to fish?

ANSWER:

Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer that tells you what we think of Red-Tip Photinias. As it happens, we are committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow natively; in your case, Galveston and Harris Counties. PLANTS, that is, we don't know much of anything about fish except how to fry them.

We found a website from the Koi and Water Garden Society of Central New York on Plants Poisonous to Fish. Photinia is not on that list; in fact, we don't think we have seen it claimed to be poisonous to horses, dogs and children. We think you should look around at some websites on possible contamination on the water in that pool. We have no experience with fish ponds, having grown up in West Texas, where there is not much water for anything, but it occurs to us that the oil sheen in the water would be a warning sign, and not something that could have been caused by the photinia. For instance, has anyone been spraying pesticides and/or herbicides in your area lately?

 

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