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

Dietes bicolor invasive from Brisbane Australia
April 01, 2013 - We have dietes bicolor growing in our garden. I am changing the type of garden and cannot seem to kill it. I've dugged it out, spent too many weekends pulling out every new shoot, used poison, but t...
view the full question and answer

Controlling Rapistrum rugosum (annual bastardcabbage)
March 09, 2012 - The invasive, Rapistrum rugosum, seems to be especially ubiquitous this year. I communicated with Dr. Mark Simmons a few years ago regarding his research, which indicated that over-sowing wit...
view the full question and answer

Comments on previous answer on non-native invasives from Raleigh NC
March 27, 2014 - https://www.wildflower.org/expert/show.php?id=7827 This answer is incorrect. Please have someone review it to remove the two invasive species you are encouraging people to plant by calling them nati...
view the full question and answer

Passionflower Vine for Boulder
March 02, 2013 - I would love to have a passionflower vine growing up an arbor. I have read comments online that indicate: 1. I can grow some types of passionflowers in Colorado. 2. The plants can become very invasiv...
view the full question and answer

Creeping buttercups in juniper in McKeesport PA
May 22, 2010 - I have creeping buttercups in my juniper ground cover. How do I get rid of them.
view the full question and answer

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