En EspaÑol

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - August 27, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Poisonous Plants, Shrubs
Title: Trimming Texas mountain laurel in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is there a specific time to trim established mountain laurels? Should I cut off the dried seed pods since they are weighing down the branches?

ANSWER:

Since we were unable to find out if Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) blooms on new or old wood, we believe the safest thing would be to prune it after it stops blooming. It blooms in February and March, so the pruning could still be done before it got too hot. This would solve your other problem, too, that of the seeds weighing down the branches. No blooms, no seeds. Furthermore, you should definitely cut off and carefully dispose of those seeds. The brilliant red seeds contain the highly poisonous alkaloid cytisine (or sophorine) - this substance is related to nicotine and is widely cited as a narcotic and hallucinogen. And they are so pretty, they are far too tempting to children and even animals that might be in the area. Even if you don't prune away the branch the blooms were on, nip those seeds off as soon as they appear. And don't put any of it in your compost pile, the whole plant has toxic qualities. 


Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Request for seeds or cuttings for Malvaceae from French Botanical Garden
September 03, 2011 - hello We create a botanical garden devoted to the Malvaceae, can you help us by sending us seeds or cuttings? friendly the director jean-marie Jolicard botanical garden beaulieu 23170 Lépaud F...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs for full sun in North Carolina
October 21, 2009 - We need suggestions for native NC evergreen shrubs that will grow well in full sun for a school garden. Most of what I've found likes part shade. We need something that will not be over 10 feet or ca...
view the full question and answer

Living fence of native plants for Ojai, CA
September 20, 2008 - I would like to build a "green fence" about 10-15 feet tall. I live in Ojai, CA where we have VERY hot summers and it goes below freezing every winter. The soil does not seem to drain well..it is e...
view the full question and answer

Male and female possumhaws for berries from Georgetown TX
April 23, 2012 - Do I need to plant two ilex decidua (possumhaws), a male and female to have red berries on the tree in the winter?
view the full question and answer

Native trees and shrubs for Austin
June 11, 2008 - Hello, I'm searching for a small or medium-sized endemic or native tree (or tree-like shrub) to feature in the front yard of my South Austin bungalow. I want something that provides dappled shade so...
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