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

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!

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 Poisonous Plants Questions

Agave attenuata Poisonous?
March 12, 2015 - Is Agave attenuata (foxtail agave) poisonous to horses or humans?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen trees for California that are non-toxic for dogs
February 19, 2014 - Hi, we live in California, San Bernardino County and would like to know what evergreen trees are safe to plant in our backyard with 2 little dogs being around. I did quite some search online but ever...
view the full question and answer

Plants causing skin irritation in West Bend WI
May 26, 2011 - Is there a list of plants that cause blistering in this area? I have a friend who gets it bad every year-I find no evidence of cow parsnip or poison ivy---thanks.
view the full question and answer

Plants to replace poison ivy and brush
June 23, 2008 - I am right next to a highway in Paradise, CA 95969. I am having brush and poison oak removed in that area and want to plant something fast growing and draught resistant. I am thinking about Oleander...
view the full question and answer

Does Virginia creeper cause a rash?
July 09, 2015 - Does Virginia creeper cause a rash to everyone or those who are only allergic as in an allergy like a peanut allergy? Is it something that should be avoided like poison ivy? And does the sap stick to ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center