Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
Not Yet Rated

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.

 

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

White and Violet Flower in Missouri
March 17, 2016 - When I was small I came into contact with a plant that gave me cold sweats, chills and hallucinations. All I remember was it bore a single flower with a little white and a lot of violet. It had a dark...
view the full question and answer

Is Poison ivy always rooted in the ground?
November 11, 2015 - Does Poison ivy on a tree always start at the ground and climb up the tree or can it start producing its vine and leaves by itself at the top of the tree or middle?
view the full question and answer

Poisonous plant in Ohio with hydrangea-like flower
June 09, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I was sure that I had read that there is a poisonous bush that is native to Ohio that has flowers something like a white hydrangea..or was it queen ann's lace? I believe the ...
view the full question and answer

Horses exposed to toxic plants in Charles Town WV
July 13, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Pants, I have a big problem on my hands! Four of my horses have gotten into something toxic, but I must find out what. I found an unusual plant that a mare chased her foal away from. It's ...
view the full question and answer

Is purple grass poisonous if eaten by a dog?
June 04, 2009 - Is purple grass poisonous if eaten by a dog?
view the full question and answer

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