Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Getting rid of poison ivy
May 08, 2009 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants, Likewise I also have a shady area in my yard with overgrowth of poison ivy. It borders a small duck pond and we have a Golden Retriever. I too would like to plant soon afterward...
view the full question and answer

Identification of yellow flowers in Wisconsin
June 19, 2012 - We have plants near Madison, Wisconsin that some call lanceleaf coreoposis however I believe they are some type of invasive species. They have yellow flowers, seem to spread by seed. and don't grown ...
view the full question and answer

Differences between Desmodium and Lespedezda
June 19, 2014 - i am trying to determine the difference between lespedeza and desmodium in my full sun wildflower and tall grasses meadow. There appear to be a number of different types of these plants, and they are...
view the full question and answer

Japanese honeysuckle invading a backyard habitat in Austin
April 29, 2010 - It has been a few weeks since we have been to our backyard (it is a place in need of desperate attention, but we have been re-landscaping the front yard first). When we went out today to start plannin...
view the full question and answer

Top soil dressing for bermudagrass
February 25, 2009 - Need to apply top soil dressing to bermudagrass. Can you suggest any type? This area is heavy clay soil and need to even out the lawn as well as feed the grass.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.