Contact Us Host an Event 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
8 ratings

Friday - May 04, 2007

From: Wills Point, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Toxicity and invasiveness of Scarlet Wisteria
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I recently purchased seeds for Scarlet Wisteria (Chinese rattlebox tree). I spoke to a neighbor about this and she warned me not to plant them as they were poisonous to hummingbirds. Can you clarify this for me? Also, is this a good species for planting in the Dallas area?

ANSWER:

Scarlet wisteria or Chinese rattlebox tree (Sesbania punicea) is an invasive introduced species from South America, so for that reason alone Mr. Smarty Plants strongly urges you not to plant your seeds.

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina says that the seeds are highly toxic and may be fatal if eaten. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System reports: "The seeds contain a saponin that is quite toxic to poultry, cattle, sheep, goats, and humans. As few as nine seeds per bird can be fatal." However, I could find no indication that the nectar is toxic to hummingbirds.

Mr. Smarty Plants recommends the following beautiful native hummingbird- and butterfly-attractant plants as substitutes for the scarlet wisteria:

Bignonia capreolata (crossvine)

Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow)

Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle)


Bignonia capreolata

Campsis radicans

Asclepias tuberosa

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

 


Lonicera sempervirens
 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Poverty plant overgrown in Austin
June 06, 2012 - We have a poverty plant that is too big for its space in our yard. We like it and want to keep it. Can it be transplanted easily? What about pruning it.
view the full question and answer

Nutgrass in Lakeway TX Habiturf
September 30, 2012 - I just installed a new septic system with drip field. Planted habiturf over the whole area. The habiturf is doing good, but I was away for a while and the nut grass has taken over several areas. It s...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for replacing invasive privet in the Dallas area.
April 20, 2011 - We are removing invasive privet at a project. We will need to substitute native plants and would like to know how to find out which plants should be used. We are in the Dallas area. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Brown, dry leaves on weeping willow tree
May 01, 2008 - We live in central TX and have just planted a weeping willow tree. Our back yard has a retention pond and ravine that parallels our property and we were told that the weeping willow will do perfectly ...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating wisteria invading from neighboring yard
October 12, 2008 - How can I get rid of Wisteria vine? It originates in my neighbor's yard. Have tried everything; gets in my Oak tree and has almost killed it. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

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