En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
7 ratings

Sunday - May 11, 2008

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Mountain laurel with new leaves or new seed pods
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Each spring, my Texas Mountain Laurel seems to put new leaves only on selected branches (actually trunks), and put on seed pods on other trunks. It seems to be mutually exclusive: trunks with new seed pods get no new leaves, and visa versa. Is that normal? The tree in question is about 5-6 years old and seems healthy otherwise.

ANSWER:

You are very observant! Producing flowers and fruits (seed pods) and producing new leaves are both very energy-costly activities, so Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) does one or the other on a particular branch, but not both. The tip of each branch, the terminal bud, holds the primary growth areas of the plant, the apical meristems. The growth will be new leaves unless the cells of the apical meristem get a signal to form flowers instead. The signals for flowering include the maturity of the plant, the photoperiod, and temperature. Various plant hormones are involved, also—for instance, auxin for plant growth (as well as other plant activities) and florigen for flowering.

Some trees either add new leaves exclusively on all branches or bloom exclusively on all branches, but yours is not abnormal with some branches having new leaves and others bearing flowers and fruit. After I read your question, I did a survey of the mountain laurels in my neighborhood and elsewhere around Austin and saw many with new leaves on some branches and fruits on different branches of the same tree like your tree, as well as some with only seed pods on all branches or only new growth on all branches.


Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

 

 



 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Plant spacing of Cenizo in Bulverde TX
November 14, 2009 - How far apart should Texas sage be planted?
view the full question and answer

Large tree and smaller specimen tree for Austin, Texas
May 01, 2007 - We are in the process of removing two Silver Maples in our front yard planted by the previous owner of our house. We live close to the Wildflower Center and have very shallow soil on top of rock. We...
view the full question and answer

Offer to send Bumelia to Kansas from Central Texas.
April 02, 2010 - If you send my email to the person who wanted the Bumelia lanuginosa (synonym: Sideroxylon langinosum), I will dig some for him/her.
view the full question and answer

Growing a Texas Mountain Laurel in Pennsylvania
May 20, 2012 - Can I grow a Texas Mt. Laurel in Lancaster, PA?
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for Waynesville MO
April 09, 2013 - We moved to Waynesville, MO (gardening region 6) and when we bought our house there was a nice looking gardening area in front of the house. It is shaded moderately by a Redwood Tree and was "occupie...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center