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Monday - May 25, 2015

From: Shreveport, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Shrubs
Title: Is Texas mountain laurel honey toxic?
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I have been told that honey produced from the flowers of my Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) would not be safe to consume. Is this correct? The only information I have been able to find is that the flowers and seed pods are toxic to children and pets. Seems there are several plants that are called by the common name of Texas Mountain Laurel. How safe is the Sophora secundiflora? It is planted near my herb garden, should I not use the herbs that grow under it?

ANSWER:

It has been reported that Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) honey is toxic.  I attach the answer to a previous Mr. Smarty Plants question:

The notion that honey bees can transfer toxic substances from flowers to their honey is a new one for Mr. Smarty Plants. However, I’ve copied a portion of an article from Wikipedia that gives some examples of this. Scroll down to 11.2 in the Table of Contents.

11.2 Toxic Honey;

Main article: Bees and toxic chemicals#Toxic honey

Honey produced from flowers of oleanders, rhododendrons, mountain laurels, sheep laurel, and azaleas may cause honey intoxication. Symptoms include dizziness, weakness, excessive perspiration, nausea, and vomiting. Less commonly, low blood pressure, shock, heart rhythm irregularities, and convulsions may occur, with rare cases resulting in death. Honey intoxication is more likely when using "natural" unprocessed honey and honey from farmers who may have a small number of hives. Commercial processing, with pooling of honey from numerous sources, claims it dilutes any toxins but these findings are not verifiable.

The mountain laurel mentioned is Kalmia latifolia (Mountain laurel)  which grows from Louisiana to the East Coast, and is more toxic than our Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)

This link to foodsafteysite.com identifies the toxin as grayanotoxin which is found in Kalmia latifolia, but not Sophora secundiflora.  It also makes the point that you should know the source of the honey and consume only processed honey, avoiding honey from farmers with only a few hives.

 

 

 

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