En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Mountain laurel with new leaves or new seed pods

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

a source for fruitless olive (non-native) trees
June 29, 2012 - I was given a "mexican olive" several years ago which is doing very well. This one is non-fruiting and I would like to have another that is non-fruiting but cannot find one. Cordia boissieri see...
view the full question and answer

Do all tuliptrees (Liriodendron tulipifera) flower?
June 02, 2009 - Do all tulip trees flower? We planted a baby one about 5 years ago and its grown considerably however it has never flowered. Is that normal? Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Plants for oak shade from Whitney TX
December 24, 2012 - I live in Whitney, Texas and have a number of beautiful Live Oak trees in a portion of my yard providing deep shade. Asian Jasmine grows in about 5 ft circle around them and then nothing! I have walk ...
view the full question and answer

Windbreak for Eastern Kansas
July 17, 2011 - I need to plant a fast growing windbreak near my lateral lines for a septic tank. We obviously can't have anything that would interfere with the laterals but I desperately need a North wind break. ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning cherry laurel in January in Austin
January 07, 2011 - Do trust I checked Q&A first. Can Cherry Laurel shrubs be pruned earlier than late winter in Austin? I foolishly planted 12 native Cherry Laurel standards on our suburban property line 5 years ago. I ...
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