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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

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