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

City tree ordinance information
January 10, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am writing to you in regards to city tree ordinances. I am a citizen of Grand Prairie, TX. and although the city is a Tree City, the city does not have a tree ordinance. T...
view the full question and answer

Planting Anacacho orchid tree in Llano, TX
October 05, 2011 - Re Bauhinia lunarioides: I'm trying to pick a good site in Llano Co for a 5 gal tree I received as a gift. Your plant database says part shade. The arid zone trees publication you reference in a...
view the full question and answer

Planning garden tasks in advance from Austin
January 03, 2012 - My yard was a disaster last year-grass and trees browning, early leaf fall on flowering plants, and water bills sky high, even with the limited watering days. What can I do this year to prevent this s...
view the full question and answer

Will Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) be toxic to chickens?
July 25, 2010 - We are considering planting Carolina Cherry Laurels around our yard for dense hedging purposes. We are concerned because we have a small flock of free-ranging chickens who eat every seed and leaf in ...
view the full question and answer

Which plants are resistant to dog urine in Ashmore, IL??
May 21, 2012 - Which native plants are resistant to dogs urinating on them?
view the full question and answer

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