Monday, April 27, 2009

Coral Bean plant

This indigenous flowering shrub which I've posted about before is called red cardinal, Cherokee bean, or coral bean, depending on what part of the country you're from.

The red flowers stand out brightly along brushy banks and wooded areas of the island. Since they flower early in the spring, I enjoy taking photos of them, but could never quite figure out why one of the names it goes by is coral bean...until now. Yesterday I had the "ah ha" moment!

As I walked closer to get photo I saw many of the shrubs had small gray pods hanging from the stems...

and some had even burst open to show...coral-colored beans.

The 'beans' are extremely poisonous. In fact, the Wiki article I linked to above stated they are poisonous enough to have been used as rat poison in the past. Yet it goes on to say that Native American Indians used various other parts of the plant (roots, leaves, etc.) for medicinal purposes and even made beaded necklaces from the beans themselves! Go figure!
Obviously you would have wanted to stay on the good side of the medicine man/woman back in the day!
So enjoy your walks, enjoy the wild flowers, but don't taste the coral beans.


Linda said...

I adore everything about your blog!! My husband and I are seriously considering a move there and I wanted you to know that your blog has helped us to get to know the area so much better. We have been there once. There are a lot of fun festivals going on all the time, aren't there? Anyway, thanks for sharing your world.

Barrier Island Girl said...

Hey Linda,

Thanks for the great comment. I'm glad to know I'm accomplishing my goal by showing everyone what a special place I live in. And yes, we have something going on just about every weekend, it seems. In fact, next week our Bands on the Beach concerts kicks off!

If you have any questions, please click on the link under my photo which says "View my complete profile". You can e-mail me any time.