En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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 Trees Questions

Difficulty with Clay Soil from Palm Bay, FL
August 22, 2012 - I had a very nice little native shady area behind my house for over 40 years, but now it has been cleared except for a 100 foot tall live oak in the center of this raised mound (50' x 80'). I've be...
view the full question and answer

Shrub that will grow outside in Zone 5 from Millbrook NY
April 21, 2012 - Is there any shrub, tree or other sort of plant that will grow well in zone 5 in a very large container outdoors?
view the full question and answer

Why so many Sugar Hackberry seedlings in my back yard in The Woodlands, TX?
May 25, 2013 - Why do I have so many Sugar Hackberry seedlings (Celtis Laevigata) sprouting up naturally in my back yard? There are a few Winged Elms in my neighborhood, but no Sugar Hackberry trees that I know of....
view the full question and answer

Hiring a landscaper in New Jersey
July 28, 2008 - Soon I will be hiring a landscaper to plant a privacy line of arborvitaes with a 1' retention wall and I need some help on prices. The quote I was given, which included 48 arborvitaes (and I will ac...
view the full question and answer

Trees for Plum Grove, TX
October 05, 2013 - Sorry Mr. Smarty pants, my question is I live in Plum Grove Texas, I have 5 acres and NO TREES. What trees were on the property were either taken out by Ike, or the twisters that followed. I have boug...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center