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Is Mountain Laurel Seed Toxic To Birds?

by Steve
(New Bern, NC, USA)

Texas Mountain Laurel Blossom

Texas Mountain Laurel Blossom

Are Texas mountain laurel seeds toxic to wild birds?




I am thinking of planting a Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora, sometimes classified as Dermatophyllum secundiflorum).

I have no idea if wild birds will eat the seeds; but, if they do, will they be harmed? The seeds of this plant are poisonous to mammals but I have not been able to find info about wild birds.

Thanks for any info you can give me!


Hi Steve

Thank you for asking!

In answer to your question, "Is Texas Mountain Laurel Seed toxic to wild birds?"



I have no personal experience or knowledge of this tree.

But this is what I found in my research:

  • 1. Dangers of Mountain Laurel Plants

    https://homeguides.sfgate.com/dangers-mountain-laurel-plants-67576.html

    "Although birds are attracted to the flowers for nectar, they apparently suffer no ill effects."

  • 2. Although birds are not specifically mentioned here, it is worth knowing.

    https://www.wildflower.org/expert/show.php?id=6682

    QUESTION:
    Are the seeds of the Texas Mountain Laurel poisonous to livestock or dogs? Thanks

    ANSWER:

    Texas Mountain Laurel Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) is a popular native evergreen because of its dark green foliage and spectacular purple flowers, but it is generally considered to be toxic, particularly the brilliant red seeds.

    One of the sources that we go to when asked about toxic plants is Toxic Plants of Texas, and it confirms the toxicity of Texas Mountain Laurel. The toxic agent is cytisine, a quinolizidine alkaloid, which is found in the leaves and the seeds. Livestock are poisoned when they ingest the leaves, however the leaves are thought to be unpalatable and are avoided when other food is a vailable. The seeds have a higher concentration of the cytisine, but unless the seeds are broken through mastication, they can pass through the digestive tract with little effect.

    Cytisine is also toxic to humans, and children are attracted to the red seed.

  • 3. Birdism, a site for pet indoor birds.

    https://birdhism.com/blogs/news/common-bird-safe-house-plants

    Laurel is listed in their "Toxic Plants" for birds list, in the "Common Bird-safe and Toxic Plants".

  • 4. Northwest Bird Rescue is a pet bird rescue site.

    https://northwestbirdrescue.org/safe-or-toxic-natural-woods/

    "Toxic Natural Woods – DO NOT USE" list, Mountain Laurel is present.

  • 5. USDA

    https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=SOSE3&photoID=sose3_003_ahp.tif

    Nothing useful as far as toxicity is concerned, but good knowledge base.

  • 6. The Spruce

    https://www.thespruce.com/mountain-laurel-plants-growing-tips-2131174

    Toxicity of Mountain Laurel
    Mountain laurel is toxic to dogs and to grazing animals, such as sheep or goats. Instances of poisoning to humans are rare, although it is reported that mild illness can result from ingesting honey made by bees that feed on the nectar of the flowers. Take care not to use the leaves of mountain laurel in place of the leaves of bay laurel, which are commonly used in recipes.


I realize this does not specifically answer your question, but at least you have information to ponder.

I hope in some way this is helpful.

All the best in whatever you decide and happy birding!

Judy

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