Okay, you may be thinking, what am I talking about? Well long ago, on a spring morning, I noticed an intoxicating fragrance in the air that reminded me of grape bubblegum. Well, there were no candy stores nearby, but I did notice a small tree with beautiful purple blossoms. It turns out, that the fragrance was coming from the flowers.
The flowers hung down like grape clusters and I later found out that this tree was called Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora).
I have wanted to share this tree with you for a long time, but wanted to wait until they were flowering. Well, yesterday as I was visiting my mother (Pastor Farmer) at Double S Farms, I noticed that their Texas Mountain Laurel were beginning to flower and so hurried home to prepare this post.
There are so many wonderful things that I love about this tree. Of course, the fragrant, purple flowers are my favorite thing, but I also like that this tree is evergreen, drought-tolerant and easy to maintain.
They are native to Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. They grow approximately 20 – 25 ft. high and 10 – 15 ft. wide. They grow naturally as a large shrub, but are often seen trained as small trees.
This beautiful tree is hardy to approximately 20 degrees F. So, I highly recommend trying it in your landscape.
They flower in March and their grape bubblegum fragrance is unmistakable. Seedpods are formed shortly after flowering stops. I am not a huge fan of seedpods in general, but I really like the ones from this tree – their creamy color and shapes add interest to the tree.
Inside the seedpods are bright red seeds that are extremely hard and poisonous. Long ago, Native Americans would use the seeds to create bracelets and necklaces.
*One year, my nephews, (Mr. Green Jeans & Monkey Boy), took the seedpods and painted them yellow and painted little snowman faces on them and gave them as gifts for Christmas. I still have mine and it decorates my Christmas tree every year.
There is a another variety that has gray leaves, which is also just as beautiful in my opinion.
*Caterpillars can become a problem during warm weather, but you can just ignore them and/or pick them off. If you see loose webbing on the leaves, that is a sign that it is infected by caterpillars. The damage caused from the caterpillars does not usually hurt the tree. It helps if you detect the eggs before they hatch and remove them. Since caterpillars usually infect the new growth, I just prune off the affected areas.
Texas Mountain Laurel is a slow-growing shrub/tree and so I recommend buying the largest size you can afford if possible. Like so many flowering plants, there are those who formally prune it and remove all of the beautiful flowers – PLEASE don’t do this.
And so in closing, the next time you detect the fragrance of grape bubblegum in the air, look around you and see if you discover the beautiful Texas Mountain Laurel nearby.