Sophora secundiflora  (Ortega) Lag. ex DC. = Calia secundiflora (Ortega) Yakovlev Mescal bean   Fabaceae

Believing them to be magical, the Plains Indians wore seeds of the mescal bean, Sophora secundiflora, in necklaces or sewn onto clothing to protect themselves from bodily harm.12

Native to the southwestern United States and adjacent Mexico, the mescal bean  is an evergreen shrub or small tree.  Its woody pods contain narcotic red seeds.  Because of their ability to induce visions and ecstatic states, southwestern Native Americans used them in initiation and other sacred rites.  The common name, mescal bean, is attributed to the practice of putting the seeds into mescal, a drink made from Agave americana, to make it more intoxicating. 

Archaeological data show that mescal beans were used for thousands of years by the people who inhabited rock shelters and cave sites in southwest Texas.  The Spanish explorer, Cabeza de Vaca, who traveled across the southern United States from 1528-1536, reported that the seeds were an object of barter among Texas Indians.  Along the Mexican border they were so highly valued that a six-foot string of beans (about seven meters) could be exchanged for a pony.13

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