Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Are non-native Chinese pistache poisonous to alpacas from Galt CA
October 07, 2012 - Are Chinese Pistachio trees poisonous to alpacas?
view the full question and answer

Discouraging Poison Ivy
June 27, 2015 - Is there a fern that discourages poison ivy from growing?
view the full question and answer

Are wild cherry trees poisonous for horses?
October 31, 2010 - I have just purchased a pony and have been told that wild cherry trees could cause harm or even kill her. Is this true and where can I go to get a list of all the poisonous plants, shrubs and trees fo...
view the full question and answer

Cake decorations with flowers
February 25, 2009 - Can I decorate a cake with bluebonnets, lavender or mountain laurel blooms?
view the full question and answer

Living fence line from Thomasville GA
November 04, 2012 - I would like to create a natural fence line on my property in South Georgia. They need to be pretty dense and horse, cow, goat friendly, growing to a height of about 4ft, preferably quickly! Do you ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.