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Plant Profile: Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora aka Dermatophyllum secundiflorum)

Texas mountin laurel with fruit

Also called mescal bean, this evergreen multi-trunked shrub or small tree is native to brushy slopes and open plains of Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. It is a member of the legume family, Fabaceae, that also includes beans, mimosa, and black locust. The plant usually grows 10-15’ tall and has dark green, glossy, pinnately compound leaves with 7-9 leathery, 2” long leaflets.  The pea-like, lavender blue flowers appear in drooping racemes 4-8” long from late winter to early spring They are very fragrant, and attract butterflies and bees.  The dry, gray fuzzy seed pods that follow are up to 6″ long and contain red seeds that are valued by Native Americans for use in jewelry making. Texas mountain laurel is tolerant of drought, heat, wind and poor soil. It is an excellent choice for a xeriscape where it can be used as a hedge and in borders and foundation plantings. The seeds and flowers are considered poisonous. The genus name, Sophora, is the Arabic name for a pea-flowered tree. The specific epithet, secundiflora, comes from the Latin words secundus meaning second, and flos, meaning flower. Photo Credit Wendy Cutler Wikimedia Commons

Type: Evergreen shrub or small tree


Outstanding Feature: Flowers

Form: Rounded

Growth Rate: Slow

Bloom: Clusters of fragrant, pea-like lavender flowers from late winter to early spring

Size: 15-25′ H x 8-10′ W

Light: Full sun to part shade


Soil: Average, dry to medium moist, well-drained, alkaline to neutral

Hardiness: Zones 8-11

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Scarified seed, cuttings, layering, or grafting.

Outstanding Selections: None available

Photo Credits: Stan Shebs Wikimedia Commons