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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Thursday - April 24, 2008

From: Mabank, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Mountain Laurel growing in East Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I found a plant that looks like a Texas Mountain Laurel growing wild on a fenceline in east texas, near Canton. It is a small shrub/tree and has flowers like wisteria. It has "hairy" stems, they are not stickery but definitely hairy. The leaf looks like a wisteria leaf with rounded tips of the leaflets. The flower didn't have a noticeable aroma.

ANSWER:

The distribution of Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) is generally restricted to the Edwards Plateau, the South Texas Plains and the Trans-Pecos regions of Texas. You can see a distribution map from the USDA Plants Database. Turner et al. in the "Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Texas" shows an occurrence in McLennan County only four counties west and south of Van Zandt County where you saw it. There are, no doubt, other counties where S. secundiflora occurs that have not been recorded. If you would like to take photos of the foliage and the fruits (which should be forming by now) and send them to us, we would be very happy to try and confirm your identification. Visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page for instructions (in the lower right corner under "Plant Identification") on submitting photos. You might also like to contact someone in the Tyler Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) and take them to see the plant. A trained botanist can collect an acceptable specimen to submit to an herbarium to officially record the plant for the location. There are also other chapters of NPSOT near Van Zandt County.

As for the flower not having a noticeable aroma, sometimes they are not very aromatic and, also, some people (this particular Mr. Smartly Plants, for instance) can't detect the strong odor associated with the flower.


Sophora secundiflora

 

 

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Bibliography

Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Texas (2003) Turner, B. L.; H. Nichols; G. Denny; O. Doron

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