En Español

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
7 ratings

Friday - May 04, 2007

From: Wills Point, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Toxicity and invasiveness of Scarlet Wisteria
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I recently purchased seeds for Scarlet Wisteria (Chinese rattlebox tree). I spoke to a neighbor about this and she warned me not to plant them as they were poisonous to hummingbirds. Can you clarify this for me? Also, is this a good species for planting in the Dallas area?

ANSWER:

Scarlet wisteria or Chinese rattlebox tree (Sesbania punicea) is an invasive introduced species from South America, so for that reason alone Mr. Smarty Plants strongly urges you not to plant your seeds.

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina says that the seeds are highly toxic and may be fatal if eaten. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System reports: "The seeds contain a saponin that is quite toxic to poultry, cattle, sheep, goats, and humans. As few as nine seeds per bird can be fatal." However, I could find no indication that the nectar is toxic to hummingbirds.

Mr. Smarty Plants recommends the following beautiful native hummingbird- and butterfly-attractant plants as substitutes for the scarlet wisteria:

Bignonia capreolata (crossvine)

Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow)

Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle)


Bignonia capreolata

Campsis radicans

Asclepias tuberosa

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

 


Lonicera sempervirens
 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Ants and garden plants for Austin
November 03, 2012 - I am needy of companion plants that compliment and work well with the Lantana, Mexican Heather , and in the new beds that I am preparing where I was thinking in part to have passion flower (though is ...
view the full question and answer

Eastern Red Cedar Roots
March 17, 2016 - Would an Eastern Red Cedar root system damage underground irrigation pipes?
view the full question and answer

Legality of using Chinese tallow seeds for Christmas decorations
December 07, 2008 - If tallow trees are on the noxious list, is it illegal to use the white berries for Christmas decorations?
view the full question and answer

Invasive American Germander from San Antonio
May 14, 2012 - I brought home some American Germander (Teucruim canadense) - page 259 In Wildflowers of Texas by Geyata Ajilvsgi - from a railroad right-of-way. Since it is a member of the mint family it has becom...
view the full question and answer

Native invasives question from Arlington MA
May 20, 2011 - When I searched your website for creepers in Massachusetts, I found the following recommendations: Campsis radicans and Parthenocissus quinquefolia. But in response to a reader's question, you called...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center