Dermatophyllum secundiflorum

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Dermatophyllum secundiflorum
Calia secundiflora flowers.jpg
Dermatophyllum secundiflorum flowers and leaves
Scientific classification
D. secundiflorum
Binomial name
Dermatophyllum secundiflorum
(Ortega) Gandhi & Reveal
Calia secundiflora range map.png
Natural range
  • Broussonetia secundiflora Ortega
  • Calia erythrosperma Terán & Berland.
  • Calia secundiflora (Ortega) Yakovlev
  • Calia secundiflora f. xanthosperma (Rehder) Yakovlev
  • Calia secundiflora subsp. albofoliolata Yakovlev
  • Cladrastis secundiflora (Ortega) Raf.
  • Dermatophyllum speciosum Scheele
  • Sophora secundiflora (Ortega) Lag. ex DC.
  • Sophora secundiflora f. xanthosperma Rehder
  • Sophora speciosa (Scheele) Benth.
  • Virgilia secundiflora (Ortega) Cav.

Dermatophyllum secundiflorum is a species of flowering shrub or small tree in the pea family, Fabaceae,[2] that is native to the southwestern United States (Texas, New Mexico) and Mexico (Chihuahua and Coahuila south to Hidalgo, Puebla and Querétaro).[3] Common names include Texas mountain laurel, Texas mescalbean, frijolito, and frijolillo.[2]


Although "mescalbean" is among the plant's common appellations, it bears no relation to the Agave species used to make the spirit mezcal, nor to the peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii), which contains the hallucinogenic alkaloid mescaline.[4]


An evergreen, its leaves are pinnately compound, with small, roughly spatulate leaflets; the leaflets are rather thick, and waxy to the touch. Never tall, and rarely having a straight trunk, its bark is smooth in all but the oldest specimens.[5] It grows slowly to a height of 15 ft (4.6 m) and a crown diameter of 10 ft (3.0 m).[6]

Extremely fragrant purple flowers, resembling the smell of grape soda, are produced in large clusters in March and April.[7] They are followed by 4 in (10 cm) pods containing deep orange seeds.[6]


It is well-adapted to arid and semi-arid habitats but is most common in riparian zones.[2]


Dermatophyllum secundiflorum is a popular ornamental plant due to its showy flowers and orange seeds. The reddish wood it produces is potentially useful, but as yet has little commercial value.

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,[7] due to the principal alkaloid cytisine, which is chemically related to nicotine. The consumption of a single seed is enough to kill an adult.[8]


  1. ^ Gandhi KN, Vincent MA, Reveal JL (2011). "Dermatophyllum, the correct name for Calia (Fabaceae)" (PDF). Phytoneuron. 57: 1–4.
  2. ^ a b c Uchytil, Ronald J. (1990). "Sophora secundiflora". Fire Effects Information System. United States Forest Service. Retrieved 2009-12-29.
  3. ^ "Calia secundiflora". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2009-12-29.
  4. ^ "Mescal Bean & The Unrelated Peyote Cactus". Plants That Make You Loco. Wayne's World. Retrieved 2009-12-29.
  5. ^ "Sophora secundiflora Texas mountain laurel". Arid Plant List. Pima County Home Horticulture. 2004-05-16. Archived from the original on 2010-02-28. Retrieved 2009-12-29.
  6. ^ a b Mielke, Judy (1993). Native Plants for Southwestern Landscapes. University of Texas Press. p. 258. ISBN 978-0-292-75147-7.
  7. ^ a b "Arboretum Spotlight: Smell the grape soda". The Sacramento Bee. ISSN 0890-5738. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  8. ^ Little, Elbert L. (1994) [1980]. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Western Region (Chanticleer Press ed.). Knopf. p. 506. ISBN 0394507614.

External links[edit]

Media related to Dermatophyllum secundiflorum at Wikimedia Commons Data related to Dermatophyllum secundiflorum at Wikispecies