Texas Mountain Laurel

 Texas Mountain Laurel  (Sophora secundifl ora)

Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundifl ora)

Texas Mountain Laurel
Sophora secundifl ora
(SOF-or-uh sek-und-ee-FLOR-uh)

Mescal Bean, Colorino, Frigolito, Frigillito, Big Drunk Bean

Family
Fabaceae

Description
This harbinger of spring is a native evergreen with luxuriant foliage and intensely fragrant, deep violet flower clusters.  All parts of this plant are poisonous – children, pets and the unaware need be cautioned.

Plant habit
Narrow and upright, maturing into an open canopy, typically multi-stemmed

Landscape use
Plant as a specimen or in a group for visual impact, ideal for small locations.  Plant in a location where the fragrant blossoms can be enjoyed.

Average mature sizes
20’ tall x 15’ wide

Growth rate
Slow, difficult to propagate and transplant due to its sensitive root system, thus larger specimens are relatively expensive in the nursery trade

Sun exposure
Sun; may benefit from afternoon shade when young

Soil requirements
Tolerates alkaline conditions

Water requirements
Prefers any well-drained soil

Heat tolerance
High; tolerates urban growing conditions

Foliage
Evergreen, glossy, green leaves are thick and leathery, providing dense coverage

Flowers
Purple flower panicles, very fragrant

Blooming period
Spring

Fruit characteristics
Long hairy seed pods; white or red seeds are poisonous

Pests and disease
None serious

Other
Earth-Kind ®plant:  tolerates infrequent watering, poor soils, and is relatively pest and disease free.  May need protection from a severe winter in the Brazos Valley/  Before 1000 A.D., Texas Indians brewed a ceremonial, hallucinogenic drink made from a mixture of powder ground from a seed and mescal (Agave) to communicate with the spirit world. In 1539, Cabeza de Vaca reported use of the red bean (seed) used in trading goods. At that time, a six foot necklace of beans could buy a small horse.

“For drought tolerance, no pests and ease of growing, our Texas Mountain Laurel is hard to beat.” – Paul Groom, Texas Gardening Guide.