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Hortiscope: Will cottonwood sticky pods sicken the family dog?

Q: I have a climbing rose that I found at an old house. At the time, it had small pink roses on it and it climbed. It looked really good after I planted it, but then the green leaves started curling up and turning brown. After two years of fighting with it, I decided to cut it off and get rid of it.

The next year it came back beautiful and green and climbed across my lattice. Then it did the same thing. I have looked for bugs and cutworms and even sprayed it with Ortho. Please help if you can because I am tired of trying.

A: I have no idea what caused this problem. It could be that the soil is contaminated in some manner. When the roots come into contact with that material, such as pesticide residue, you will have problems. Cut some frustration out of your life and give up trying to work with this particular rose.

Q: I have a bunch of cottonwood trees in my backyard. As always, they produce the sticky pods and then the white cotton seeds. They stick to my dog's paws, so he tries to get them off and usually ends up eating them. Are they bad for him to eat? Could they hurt or even kill him? He seems to be feeling sick lately and the pods are the only thing different around here.

A: I would suspect that these are the cause of your dog's nausea. Try to get the seeds raked or vacuumed up as they fall or at least keep an area clean where the dog will be. They should be done dropping their mess in another week or two.

To contact Ron Smith for answers to your questions, write to Ron Smith, NDSU Department of Plant Sciences, Dept. 7670, Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050 or e-mail