Calia is a genus of three or four species of shrubs and small trees in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family, Fabaceae. The genus is native to southwestern North America from western Texas to New Mexico and Arizona in the United States, and south through Chihuahua, Coahuila and Nuevo León in northern Mexico. Members of the genus are commonly known as mescalbean, mescal bean or frijolito. One of the common names of C. secundiflora is Texas mountain laurel, although the name mountain laurel also refers to the very dissimilar and unrelated genus Kalmia (family Ericaceae) and the name laurel refers generally to plants in the unrelated order Laurales.
- Calia arizonica (S.Watson) Yakovlev (syn. Sophora arizonica) – Arizona Mescalbean (Arizona, Chihuahua)
- Calia arizonica subsp. formosa (Kearney & Peebles) Yakovlev (syn. Calia formosa, Sophora arizonica subsp. formosa, Sophora formosa) (Arizona)
- Calia gypsophila – Guadalupe Mescalbean (syn. Sophora gypsophila) (Southern New Mexico, western Texas, Coahuila) endangered
- Calia secundiflora (Ortega) Yakovlev (syn. Sophora secundiflora) – Texas Mescalbean (Texas, New Mexico, Coahuila, Nuevo León)
Calia spp. grow to 1–11 m (3.3–36.1 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 20 cm (7.9 in) in diameter, often growing in dense thickets that grow from basal shoots. The leaves are evergreen, leathery, 6–15 cm (2.4–5.9 in) long, pinnate with 5-11 oval leaflets, 2–5 centimetres (0.79–1.97 in) long and 1–3 cm (0.39–1.18 in) broad. The flowers, produced in spring, are fragrant, purple, typical pea-flower in shape, borne in erect or spreading racemes 4–10 cm (1.6–3.9 in) long. The fruit is a hard, woody seedpod 2–15 cm (0.79–5.91 in) long, containing 1-6 oval bright red seeds 1–1.5 cm (0.39–0.59 in) long and 1 cm (0.39 in) in diameter.
All parts of the mescalbeans are very poisonous, containing the alkaloid cytisine (not mescaline, as suggested by the name). The seeds or other parts of the plant have been reported to have been used as a hallucinogen by some Native American people, but this is uncertain, due to confusion over names. The symptoms of cytisine poisoning are very unpleasant, including nausea and seizures; as little as one seed can be fatal.
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- "Calia Berland.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 1999-03-05. Retrieved 2009-12-29.
- Heenan, P.B.; M.I. Dawson; S.J Wagstaff (2004). "The relationship of Sophora sect. Edwardsia (Fabaceae) to Sophora tomentosa, the type species of the genus Sophora, observed from DNA sequence data and morphological characters". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 146 (4): 439–446. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2004.00348.x.