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
3 ratings

Wednesday - September 19, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Trees
Title: Are mountain laurel beans safe to use as rattles with small children?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Is it safe to use the mountain laurel mescalbean pods as shakers or rattles, as long as the pods are not open and the seeds left unexposed? If a small child (very small, who has no way to open the pods) were to taste the bark would that pose a threat? Thank you Mr. Smarty McSmartington!)))

ANSWER:

Although Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) is described by Poisonous Plants of North America as "Causing Only Low Toxicity if Eaten", The North American Guide to Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms by Nancy J. Turner and Patrick von Aderkas (Timber Press, 2009) says that the seeds are "halucinogenic and highly toxic; potentially fatal in small quantities to children" and "One seed, thoroughly chewed, is said to be enough to kill a child."  You mention that the child has no way to open the pods; however, as the pods dry they will split open on their own to release the red seeds and those seeds would be very attractive to a child.   Even if they weren't poisonous, there would be a choking risk for a small child putting the seeds in the mouth.  And, even if the pods didn't open on their own, I think it would be extremely risky for a child to put the seed pods in its mouth.  You would be surprised how strong the teeth and jaws of small children can be—strong enough to crack the seed pod, perhaps.

Here is a link to more information from Sweet Medicine Shoppe.com.

I would highly recommend that you do NOT let a small child use the mescalbean seed pods as rattles.  It would be an extremely dangerous risk for the child.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Are Viguiera dentate leaves toxic to dogs?
November 26, 2014 - Many dogs on the Turkey Creek Nature Trail in Emma Long Metropolitan Park love to snack on the leaves of the Viguiera Dentata plants. The leaves SEEM to be harmless. I am writing to request informat...
view the full question and answer

Spreading Poison Oak to Clothes and Shoes
May 31, 2013 - I had a poison oak rash about 2 years ago and during that time I had to attend a wedding. At the wedding I wore a pair of dress shoes and a pair of cowboy boots. Can I wear these shoes again? Is there...
view the full question and answer

Mosaic virus in Poke Salad in East Texas
April 20, 2008 - I live in a rural East Texas, and have an abundance of Poke Salad. If you know how to prepare it, it's a springtime treat for anyone who enjoys veggies. However, for the last few years, many of the o...
view the full question and answer

White flowering mountain laurel from Driftwood TX
August 23, 2012 - I love white flowering mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) and want to grow one from seeds. I've had a lot of success germinating and growing purple mountain laurel from seeds (or beans), so I DO ...
view the full question and answer

Is Norfolk pine poisonous to cats?
December 11, 2009 - Is a northfork pine poisonous to cats?
view the full question and answer

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