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

Sunday - March 11, 2012

From: Fulshear, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Is Texas Mountain Laurel Honey Toxic in Fulshear, TX?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Toxicity of Texas Mountain Laurel HONEY I know the seeds and leaves of the Tx Mountain Laurel are toxic. But, is honey that comes from the Mountain Laurel toxic too? I heard that it is, but can't imagine??

ANSWER:

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.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Mountain laurel
Kalmia latifolia

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Trees Questions

Shrub that will grow outside in Zone 5 from Millbrook NY
April 21, 2012 - Is there any shrub, tree or other sort of plant that will grow well in zone 5 in a very large container outdoors?
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

Cherry Laurel for North Central Texas
May 16, 2010 - I want a small evergreen tree (approx 20'x 15')and would like to plant a Cherry Laurel. Would this be a good choice in North Central Texas (DFW area)? If not, any suggestions? Thank You.
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

Identification of native dogwoods in Williamson Co., TX
March 12, 2007 - Hi Mr/Mrs SmartyPlants What are the small-ish wild trees that are blooming so beautifully now? They are practically covered in pretty white blossoms. I've always called them dogwoods but in the vari...
view the full question and answer

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