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Texas Mountain Laurel (native)
Texas Mountain Laurel (native)
Texas Mountain Laurel (native)

Texas Mountain Laurel (native)

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Texas Mountain Laurel
Scientific Name:  sophora secundiflora

History/general species info:  Indigenous peoples valued the red seeds, which formed a near lacquer form, and they used these seeds for ceremonies and ornament use. In addition, these seeds were known to be very poisonous and acted as a hallucinogen or narcotic at times, and in some instances, it had ceremonial relations with nicotine.  

Characteristics:  Evergreen. Slow growing. Small, shiny, leather-like leaves 7-13 leaflets that are two inches long. Purple wisteria- like flowers bloom in early spring and give off a strong fragrance similar to the smell of grapes Kool-aid. May be grown as a medium to large shrub or trained to a single or multi-trunk tree.  The fruit is a semi-woody pod with bright red poisonous seeds. Warning - The brilliant red seeds contain the highly poisonous alkaloid cytisine (or sophorine).

Flower: Blue or purple, blooming in early spring.  Very fragrant.

Planting / Care:  Low to medium water. Sun to part shade. Highly heat, drought and cold tolerant.  Requires good drainage and grows in well-drained sandy, sandy loam, clay loam, clay soils. Requires little, if any irrigation once established. Deer resistant. 

Size and Spacing:  Generally grows to 10-15 ft high

Native: yes

Wildlife: Attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and insect pollinators

Links:  

Aggie Horticulture:
https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ornamentals/nativeshrubs/sophorasecund.htm

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center: 
https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=sose3

Photo Credits: Texas A&M