...Notes from the Field

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Texas Mountain Laurel

by | Jun 17, 2022

As with so much in the wild and in life, sometimes the most beautiful things can also be dangerous, such as this Texas mountain laurel I found in Harlingen, Texas a couple of months ago. The seeds that will eventually be produced after these incredibly beautiful flowers get pollinated, then fruit are highly toxic to humans. So toxic that just one seed is reportedly enough to kill a healthy adult human! Not that this knowledge has ever stopped people in the past: Native Americans living in the areas of Mexico and South Texas where this is native once used these beans as a hallucinogen!

(click image to enlarge)

Texas Mountain Laurel

Texas Mountain Laurel (Dermatophyllum secundiflora)

Native to South and Southwest Texas, and Center Mexico, this absolutely beautiful tree is a member of the pea family. The Texas mountain laurel goes by many other local names such as frigolito, frijollito, frijolillo, coral bean, big-drunk bean and more. These beautiful flowers blossom in the spring, and will produce what are known as mescal beans with bright red pea-like seeds which are highly toxic to people. This one was found blooming in Harlingen, Texas on a beautiful sunny spring afternoon in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Texas Mountain Laurel

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