Identify this plant

I have this plant in my backyard. It stands about 1.7m tall and is not currently in bloom but the flowers are pink and look like roses. My guinea pig likes to sit under it but he also likes to eat the flower petals, which are like crack to him. So when it’s in bloom I have to keep him away from it because I don’t know if the flowers are okay for him to eat. Can anyone identify it?

Oh and sorry about the pictures, I took them with my crappy digital camera and I’m too lazy to take more. For the first one just turn your head sideways :wink:

No idea, but google “master gardener” and your locale.
Master gardeners know everything and they do community service (around here they consult at the public library once a month). Bring them a sample and they will have the references to back up whatever info they provide.

Looks like a quince bush. The fruit is rock hard and resembles small apples.

I think maybe it’s a camillia – try looking them up. I don’t know if they’re safe to eat.

I had no idea they fruited. I thought the leaves looked like camellia. Here is a link showing fruit.
Camellia fruit

I’ve never seen fruit on a camellia, but those are the right leaves and the flowers definately look like roses. I can’t find a specific cite that they’re poisonous off the top of my Google, but this one does put them on the list of things to watch your kids around:

However, here’s one where it’s on the list of things that are NOT poisonous to dogs and cats:

Generally speaking, I wouldn’t let a pet eat anything that you weren’t absolutely certain was non-toxic.

Well it’s defintitely a Camellia, presumably C. japonica.

I’ve never heard of anything being poisoned by Camellia for whetever that’s worth. Personally though I’d follow Zsofia’s advice: unless you are certain, don’t risk it. After all you don’t want to use your pet as a guinea pig.

God’ll get you for that, Blake

:: looks outside at wall o’ camellias ::

The leaves look sort of like a Camellia, but I don’t think that is one. Might be related. My camellias don’t make big fruits like that. Cut one of those open and post a picture of that, eh? Or a pic of the flowers?

Incidentally, if it is a camellia, then I can assure you that the flowers are nontoxic and quite possibly tasty. My Boston Terrorist devours camellia flowers on a regular basis. They don’t hurt him one bit.

We have about a bajillion camellias in Sacramento. My parents had about six of them when I was growing up. I don’t recall our producing fruit, but that’s probably because we picked the flowers when they were still in bloom. I’m certain that picture 2 shows camellia leaves.

It’s definitely a camellia, and just to reassure you that your doggy won’t die, good old ‘tea’ comes from the camellia family as well.

Cuppa anyone?

At least one type of camelia has leaves that are non-toxic to humans. Camelia sinensis is used for making regular tea (e.g. oolong or Japanese green tea). Sometimes the leaves are eaten rather than just being brewed for tea. Dunno about guinea pigs, though.

Caffeine is produced by the plant to discourage herbivory and is highly toxic and as a result the leaves of C. sinensis are moderately toxic. Anyone who tried eating more than a handful of C. sinensis leaves would suffer all the adverse affects associated with caffeine overdose, including death at the extreme.
Remember, people only put a teaspoon of leaves in a litre or so of water, and they throw most of those out rather than eating them. This rodent is potentially eating the equivalent of a pound of flowers. That level of tea consumption wouldn’t be safe for humans.

I have no idea if the particular species shown here produces caffeine or how dangerous caffeine is to guinea pigs, but the fact that humans can tolerate moderate intake of C. sinensis with only mild posoning symptoms tells us nothing about the potential effects of a rodent eating dozens of flowers or leaves.

Hmm, someone said something about tea when they came over. Guess it’s a camellia :slight_smile:

He’s not interested in the leaves at all. But he’s way too fond of the petals. Sounds like I might just have to keep him away from the bush while it’s in bloom.

Just because something is related to something else doesn’t mean it’s similar, or even safe. Tomatoes come from the same family as deadly nightshade, you know.

This got me wondering how many tea leaves one could eat without dying. I found this web site that says the lowest known fatal dose of caffeine for an adult was 3200 mg. I found another site that says that tea leaves contain about 3% caffeine by weight, on average. 3.2 g / 0.03 ~= 107 g, or about 3.8 ounces. Note that the 3% approximation is for dry tea leaves, which means one could eat almost a quarter of a pound of dry tea leaves of average caffeine content without dying (you’d be plenty sick, though). I don’t know what the numbers would be for leaves fresh off the plant, but I’m sure they’d be much higher (anyone know how much weight a tea leaf loses when it’s dried?).

Again, this doesn’t say anything about whether it’s safe for a guinea pig to eat the flowers of a different species of camellia.

I found another site here that says that undried tea leaves contain 70 - 80% water, while dried tea leaves contain 3 - 4% water. Let’s assume that the leaves lose a minimum amount of water (which is the worst case when trying to figure out the toxicity of fresh leaves from that of dried leaves). That is, the leaves start out with 70% water and end up with 4% water. In that case, 100g of dried leaves would contain 4 g of water and 96 g of solids. To figure out the mass of the same leaves if enough water were added to bring the water content to 70%, solve:

4 + x = 0.7 (100 + x)

where x is the mass of the added water. Solving for x, we get x = 220. That is, 100 grams of dried tea leaves have lost 220 grams of water in the drying process. The original mass of 100 grams of dried tea leaves is 320 grams, which means that undried leaves have 3.2 times the mass of dried leaves.

In my last post I figured out that the minimum lethal dose of dried tea leaves is 107 g, so the minimum lethal dose of undried leaves would be about 342 g, or a little more than 12 ounces. So one would have to eat about three quarters of a pound of undried tea leaves to get a minimum toxic dose of caffeine.