The (Draft) Safe Plant List for Florida Rabbits

     There is a large conversation taking up bits of internet as more people worldwide work on safe, natural diets to feed rabbits. There is so much information out there, but most is for climates that have plants that do not grow well here in Central Florida.
     The nutritional makeup up a rabbit's complete diet is a large subject best explored here (Rabbit Nutrition: The Numbers). This is meant to be just a list of safe plants, along with a list of common but unsafe plants. Starred items I have personally fed my rabbits with no ill effects.

Grassy Types 
     Banana leaves*
     Yellow Nutsedge*
     Pampas Grass*
     Fountain Grass

Legume Types
     Cowpea leaves*
     Peanut leaves and shells*
     Black Turtle bean leaves*
     Green runner bean leaves*
     Desmodium spp. leaves*

Herb Types
     Spanish Needle (Bidens alba, Bidens pilosa)*
     Soap Ginger*
     Cardamom Ginger
     Sweet potato leaves*
     All Rosaceae family, including blackberry*, raspberry, pears*, and roses
     Citrus leaves*
     Persimmon leaves*
     Canna leaves*
     Squash spp.*
     Carrot leaves*
     Prickly Pear (spines removed)
     Pusley, Brazilian* and Floridian*
     Violet Woodsorrel*
Spanish Dagger*

Unsafe but common plants
     Century plant
     All Prunus species including Cherry Laurel (fruit may be safe, pits are not)
     Chinaberry Tree
     4 O'Clocks
     Taro, Dasheen, Elephant Ear
     White Potato Greens
     Tomato plants
     Crape Myrtle
     Rhoeo spathacea Steam (syn. R. discolor Hance)
     Oyster plant
     Moses-in-a-Boat (Purple Heart)
     Rain lily
Asthma Weed, Spurge

Unknown Toxicity Status
Oak trees and acorns
     Cabbage Palm
     Crepe Myrtle
     Pine needles
     Stargazer or Daylily
     Muscadine grape
     Orange Honeysuckle
     Mexican Creeper
     Confederate Jasmine
     Dog Fennel
     Peace Lily
     Mexican Petunia
     Air Potato, Diascorea spp.
     Acacia spp.
     Begonia spp.
     Cypress spp.
     Pecan leaves
     Prickly sida, Sida spinosa
Monkey Ear Tree leaves

     Here is a quick list of some rabbit-safe forages from Hawaii. It may give some ideas to those who live in South Florida.
Kiawe (mesquite) 
Plantain (the small green lawn weed type as well as the banana types of plantain)
Sweet potato vines
Sunflower - seeds, leaves and stems 
Grape vines and leaves 
Rosemary (it is said rosemary will make their wool lustrous, however they won't always eat it.) 
Lemon balm 
Banana - leaves, skins, fruit and trunk
Corn - husks, leaves and stems - not too much of the grain, though.
Roses - leaves, flowers and stems 
Beet greens  - not too much of the root, but you are supposed to eat that yourself.
Pigeon Pea - leaves and pods
Russian olive - although they may not like the taste
Ti leaves
Guinea grass - although they prefer the young leaves to the old stickery ones.
Carrots, especially the green tops
Rabbits turn weeds into fertilizer, just think of the possibilities...


Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

Totally not related to rabbits: A friend told me he gave one of his goats some sort of elephant ear leaf. It ate a bite, then started snuffling and snorting. Calcium oxalate is a harsh mistress...

Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

BTW, any recommendations on housing rabbits? Any photos you can share? We want to raise them this year but I haven't got anything built yet. Your plant lists are really, really helpful - this is going to be my go-to site when we start. I'm so tired of all the commercial feeds I have to give my chickens - it seems that rabbits are a lot easier to feed without resorting to evil gen-mod crap.

chrissy bauman said...

About the calcium oxalate... I know, I cooked some Elephant Ear leaves last year. I didn't die, but learned that you really do need to cook them for hours. Just half an hour on the stove top will not do. The back of my jaw burned a bit for a couple of days. :)
I'm glad you like the list. I still buy alfalfa pellets for my few rabbits. I just have a couple, and I think I'm going to be getting a new buck soon because mine isn't getting the job done. I'm still learning about it all. Also am landscaping my yard with edible perennials for us and the rabbits. Things like bananas, cannas, hibiscus, gingers, and blackberries, that grow well with no pest problems and are nutritious. The unlandscaped parts of my yard are now highly efficient weed producing pastures that are carefully maintained to produce grasses and Bidens alba. It does look strange, but is still nicer than my neighbors' yards, so I guess I'm doing something right!
Our rabbit setup is very lazy, we didn't build anything except the roof, which is corrugated metal on a wood frame. The cages are modified dog crates (expensive but lasting) with a wire mesh wired in the bottom. The mesh is bunny-poop sized. Cages are wired to cement blocks (I was worried about winds and theft), and I keep them locked. Pasturing isn't really feasible here, too many renters with loose dogs and teenagers that might want to steal them. Actually the dog thing is probably a problem everywhere. Why does every single dog in my county have to be pit-mix big scary things that want to kill all rabbits?
all pit bulls. they are like the gmo corn of dogs, found in everything.
The closed down K-Mart down the street from me is reopening into a farm store. Now it will be even easier to buy processed chicken feed. Mwahaha! I'm more interested in growing it though, have you grown sorghum or had success with any other good grains for the south?

Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

Dogs are really a menace. We deal with that here, too.

I've grown a little sorghum. I'm trying a different variety this year, though it's a cane variety - not a grain variety.

I'm thinking of planting an acre of crops this fall. I had a windfall access to some farmland and I'm going to take at least a chunk of it and dedicate it to chickens. Turnips, sunflowers, corn, mangels, etc. We're gonna make it work somehow.

I've actually heard potatoes make great chicken feed, except they'll still need a little more protein.

Your rabbit cages sound easy enough - thank you.

George G said...

Thanks for that excellent list.
I really like your posts about individual plants (like Loquat) too.
It really gives it an extra dimension when you share your personal rabbit feeding experience.
I haven't got rabbits yet, but plan to.
I do have a Loquat tree, and its leave get heavily eaten by our local Australian wild possums, along with my apple tree and sweet potato leaves,
so thats even more evidence in my eyes they are digestible to vegetarian animals.
This can be a useful website that lists the research done for many fodder plants -

chrissy bauman said...

Thank you for the compliments. Rabbits are a wonderful addition to any garden even if not raising them for meat. The manure is very high-quality.
Don't get me started on possums. They have decided that my garden is their personal foraging grounds, and have destroyed every potato I've ever planted. And carrots. And many other plants.
Thank you for the link. There are many rabbit feed discussions at this website, including seed-sprouting fodder systems and safe plant for natural feeding.

Anonymous said...

Specifically about sycamore... do you have the scientific name? Or a pic? And what part(s) did you feed? I'm just trying to make sure what I'm calling sycamore is the same as what you're calling it :)


chrissy bauman said...

I feed my rabbits the leaves of the American Plane Tree, also known as sycamore, that is native to the eastern half of the US. The latin name is Platanus occidentalis. It's a great roughage source in the winter when the grass growth slows.

One Acre Farm Rabbits said...

You can find a wealth of information on rabbits here:
including lots of photos of housing options.

One Acre Farm Rabbits said...

Excellent list, very well done. The only thing I would suggest is to add the scientific names, since plant common names can used incorrectly sometimes, or the same name for different plants in different areas.
There were a few on here I did not know about!

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Tyler Dostie said...

For anyone interested, I found a related blog post about feeding "weeds" to rabbits in Central Florida. ore specifically, it mentions that Wedelia is a safe plant to give them. This list could be updated with the info found here:

And thank you very much for posting this!

Anonymous said...

You're raising the rabbits to kill, correct? So the plants you consider "safe" may only be harmless in the short run. A person who loves their rabbits and want them to live a long, happy, healthy, life might reconsider feeding the plants you're using on rabbits you consider expendable.