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 Trees Questions

Viability of Desert Willow in clay soil in Fredericksburg, TX
November 25, 2005 - I have recently purchased a house in a new subdivision in Fredericksburg, TX. The lot was not landscaped. I have a small lot (85 X 135), my back yard is about 50 X 85. The soil is a heavy clay. I am c...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for trees with non-invasive root system in Paramus, NJ.
August 23, 2011 - What trees can I plant in New Jersey with non invasive root systems? We lost our tree to a storm and are looking for a viable replacement.
view the full question and answer

Suitability of Monterrey oaks for small space in San Antonio
April 23, 2009 - I am purchasing a home and the existing owners have planted three Monterrey oaks in the back. It is a small yard and the trees are no more than 15 feet from the house.The trees back up to a fence that...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for trees to withstand high winds on Top Sail Island, North Caroloina.
August 20, 2013 - Moving to coastal southern North Carolina. Planting native trees and shrubs, wax bayberry, Redbud, love the River Birch. What type of tree has the deepest roots or would be least likely to blow over...
view the full question and answer

Demise of Flameleaf Sumac in Austin, TX.
July 31, 2012 - My Flameleaf Sumac suddenly died. Beetles came out around the trunk when I cut it down. How can I prevent this on the other sumac?
view the full question and answer

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