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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fabales

Familia: Fabaceae
Subfamilia: Faboideae
Tribus: Sophoreae
Genus: Dermatophyllum
Species: D. arizonicum – D. gypsophilum – D. juanhintonianum – D. purpusii – D. secundiflorum
Source(s) of checklist:

Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Dermatophyllum in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jun!01 {{{3}}}. Reference page.


Dermatophyllum Scheele (1848)

Type species: Dermatophyllum speciosum Scheele = D. secundiflorum
(Ortega) Gandhi & Reveal


Agastianis Raf., New Fl. 3: 85. 1838.
Type species: A. secundiflora (Ortega) Raf.
Broussonetia Ortega, Nov. Rar. Pl. Matrit. 61. 1798, nom. rej.
Type species: B. secundiflora Ortega
Calia Terán & Berland. Mier-Terán, Mem. Com. Lim. 13. 1832, nom. illeg., non Calea L. (1763).
Type species: C. erythrosperma Terán & Berland.
Sophora sect. Agastianus P.C.Tsoong Acta Phytotax. Sin. 19(2): 161. 1981.
Type species: S. secundiflora (Ortega) Lag. ex DC.
Sophora sect. Arizonatae P.C.Tsoong Acta Phytotax. Sin. 19(2): 160. 1981.
Type species: S. arizonica S.Wats.
Sophora sect. Calia (Terán & Berland.) Rudd, Phytologia 21: 327. 1971.
Type species: S. secundiflora (Ortega) Lag. ex DC.
Sophora ser. Secundiflorae P.C.Tsoong Acta Phytotax. Sin. 19(2): 161. 1981.
Type species: S. secundiflora (Ortega) Lag. ex DC.

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Northern America
Regional: Southern Central USA
Arizona, New Mexico, Texas
Regional: Mexico
Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Southwest
Introduced into:
India, Kenya, Pakistan

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition

Primary references

Scheele, G.H.A. 1848. Linnaea; Ein Journal für die Botanik in ihrem ganzen Umfange 21: 458.

Additional references

Farr, E.R. & Zijlstra, G. (eds.) 1996 onwards. Dermatophyllum in Index Nominum Genericorum (Plantarum). Accessed: 2011 Dec 28.
Gandhi, K.N., Vincent, M.A., & Reveal, J.L. 2011. Dermatophyllum, the correct name for Calia (Fabaceae). Phytoneuron 2011–57: 2.
Lee, S.T., Cook, D., Molyneux, R.J., Davis, T.Z. & Gardner, D.R. 2013. Alkaloid profiles of Dermatophyllum arizonicum, Dermatophyllum gypsophilum, Dermatophyllum secundiflorum, Styphnolobium affine, and Styphnolobium japonicum previously classified as Sophora species. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 49: 87-93. DOI: 10.1016/j.bse.2013.03.018 Reference page.
Turner, B.L. 2012. New names in Dermatophyllum (Fabaceae). Phytoneuron 2012-3: 1–4. PDF
Not accepted by: Govaerts, R. (2000). World Checklist of Seed Plants Database in ACCESS D: 1-30141. [Cited as Sophora.]


Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Dermatophyllum in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jun!01 {{{3}}}. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Dermatophyllum. Published online. Accessed: Jun 01 2021. 2021. Dermatophyllum. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jun 01.
Hassler, M. 2021. Dermatophyllum. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2021. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jun 01. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2021. World Plants. Synonymic Checklist and Distribution of the World Flora. . Dermatophyllum. Accessed: 01 Jun 2021.

Vernacular names
English: Mescalbean
español: Frijolito

Dermatophyllum 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 Dermatophyllum secundiflorum 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.

Although still commonly treated in the genus Sophora, recent genetic evidence has shown that the mescalbeans are only distantly related to the other species of Sophora.[3]


Dermatophyllum comprises the following species:[2][4][5]

Dermatophyllum arizonicum (S.Watson) Vincent—Arizona Mescalbean (Arizona, Chihuahua)
subsp. arizonicum (S.Watson) Vincent
subsp. formosum (Kearney & Peebles) Vincent (Arizona)
Dermatophyllum gypsophilum (B.L. Turner & A.M. Powell) Vincent—Guadalupe Mescalbean (Southern New Mexico, western Texas, Coahuila)
Dermatophyllum guadalupense (B.L. Turner & A.M. Powell) B.L.Turner
Dermatophyllum juanhintonianum (B.L. Turner) B.L. Turner
Dermatophyllum secundiflorum (Ortega) Gandhi & Reveal—Texas Mescalbean (Texas, New Mexico, Coahuila, Nuevo León)
Dermatophyllum purpusii (Brandegee) Vincent


Dermatophyllum 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). Nevertheless, there is evidence of the seeds of the plant having been used in a ritualistic context as a hallucinogen by some Native American peoples.[6] The symptoms of cytisine poisoning are very unpleasant. This has led to speculation that the peyote cult may have developed as a relatively safe substitute for the potentially toxic mescalbean, given the close parallels in performance and divination between the two (including leaders of Plains Indian peyote rituals wearing a necklace of mescalbeans).[7]


Cardoso D, Pennington RT, de Queiroz LP, Boatwright JS, Van Wyk BE, Wojciechowski MF, Lavin M (2013). "Reconstructing the deep-branching relationships of the papilionoid legumes". S Afr J Bot. 89: 58–75. doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2013.05.001.
Gandhi KN, Vincent MA, Reveal JL (2011). "Dermatophyllum, the correct name for Calia (Fabaceae)" (PDF). Phytoneuron. 2011 (57): 1–4. ISSN 2153-733X.
Heenan PB, Dawson MI, Wagstaff SJ (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". Bot J Linn Soc. 146 (4): 439–446. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2004.00348.x.
Turner BL. (2012). "New names in Dermatophyllum (Fabaceae)" (PDF). Phytoneuron. 2012 (3): 1–4. ISSN 2153-733X.
"The Plant List entry for Dermatophyllum". The Plant List. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Missouri Botanical Garden. 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
James H. Howard (1957). "The Mescal Bean Cult of the Central and Southern Plains: An Ancestor of the Peyote Cult". American Anthropologist. 59 (1): 75–87. doi:10.1525/aa.1957.59.1.02a00070. JSTOR 666531.
Robert C. Fuller (2000). Stairways To Heaven: Drugs In American Religious History. pp. 34–35. ISBN 9780813366128.

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