Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora)
If you’ve recently caught a whiff of something grape-flavored (mmmmm…) while walking your dog, riding your bike, or taking your mail to the box, you smelled Texas mountain laurel. Also known as mescal bean, this small, slow-growing tree is drought tolerant and thrives in rocky, limestone soils. It’s glossy, dark green leaves are evergreen and the fantastic purple blooms give way to brown seed pods containing bright red poisonous seeds. If you’re worried about children or pets eating the seeds, the pods are plainly visible and can be easily removed without harm to the tree. Transplants from the nursery are usually multi-trunked and very shallowly rooted. Take extra care to hold the rootball together when moving the tree from a container to the ground. Gently firm the soil around the woody stems as you back fill and slowly water in.
Also blooming right now: Redbuds, Mexican plum, peach trees, plum trees
Photo: Texas mountain laurel – Nina Hawkins