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Texas Mescalbean

Texas Mescalbean

Calia secundiflora flowers and leaves
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Sophoreae
Genus: Calia
Species: C. secundiflora
Binomial name
Calia secundiflora
(Ortega) Yakovlev

Texas Mescalbean (Calia secundiflora, formerly Sophora secundiflora), also known as the Frijolito or, confusingly, as Texas Mountain Laurel, is a slow-growing, common shrub or small tree native to the southwestern United States (Texas, New Mexico) and Mexico (Chihuahua and Coahuila south to Hidalgo, Puebla and Queretaro), well-adapted to its arid to semiarid environment.

An evergreen, its leaves are pinnately-compound, with small, roughly spatulate leaflets; the leaflets are rather thick, and waxy to the touch.[1] Never tall, and rarely having a straight trunk, its bark is smooth in all but the oldest specimens.[2]


A popular ornamental plant, it is well known for its highly fragrant, purple flowers (the smell is sometimes compared to Kool-Aid) and very hard, bright red seeds. The reddish wood it produces is potentially useful, but as yet has little commercial value.

This is an often-misunderstood plant, frequently confused with the mezcal plant used in tequila manufacture, as well as with mescaline, due to its name of "mescalbean". Further adding to this is the fact that the beans were in fact once used by some native American tribes as a hallucinogen, before being supplanted by peyote. This plant does not contain any mescaline, however; all parts of it are highly poisonous, due to the principle alkaloid cytisine, which is chemically related to nicotine.

References and links

  • Germplasm Resources Information Network: Calia secundiflora
  • University of Arizona information on S. secundiflora (Accessed 2/26/06)
  • Erowid mescal vault (Accessed 2/26/06)
  • S. secundiflora images
  • NRCS: USDA Plants Profile Calia secundiflora
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Texas_Mescalbean". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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