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

Sunday - April 01, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Origin of cultivar of Sophora secundiflora
Answered by: Anne Ruggles

QUESTION:

Howdy, Mr. Smarty Plants! I am hoping you can shed some light on the origin of my silver-leaved TX Mountain Laurel, "Silver Peso". Some nurseries refer to it as a genetic variation of Sophora secundiflora, some refer to it as a cultivar, and still others refer to it as Sophora arizonica, native to Arizona. The NPIN database makes no reference to an Arizonica variety, So I'm wondering what gives? How did this tree come to be? Thanks!

ANSWER:

You have encountered a mash-up of terminology, some of it scientific and some from “common” language. The NPIN database is constantly growing; one day you may find an entry for Sophora arizonica. The short answer to your question is that Sophora arizonica and S. secundaflora are both species native to North America; both with fairly limited ranges. The first has a limited distribution in Arizona and the second is native to Texas, New Mexico, and northern Mexcio.

We went to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Natural Resources Conservation Service, Plants Profile database. This shows that there are 12 species in the genus Sophora in North America. Of those 12, one is S. arizonica (native to Arizona only) and one is S.  secundiflora native to Texas and New Mexico.

 

We also went to the ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line database) Taxonomy working Group web site and accessed the North American database for the family Fabaceae (Sohphora is a member of this family). This database was updated in 2011. It also shows 12 species within the genus and includes both S. arizonica and S.  secundiflora.

The Sonoran Desert Naturalist describes the range of S. Arizonica as having a "very restricted range. Isolated populations on eastern and southern foothills of the Hualapai Mts. of Mohave Co. and in portions of Graham and norther Cochise Co., Arizona. A related plant, Texas Sophora (aka Mescal Bean), Sophora secundaflora, is widely cultivated in Phoenix and Tucson xeriscapes." You can find photos of S. arizonica on their web site. 

The Wildflower Center, as you have found, has an entry for S. secundaflora.

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant Identification
November 09, 2008 - I recently found a GIANT green seed pod around my small town in Northern Virginia. It's about 1 ft. 3 in. in diameter (15 in.) and its making me very curious as to what exactly it is. For the life of...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant that looks like a spider plant
February 25, 2008 - Okay Mr. Smarty Pants, I have an identification for you. I have no pictures, but I've been staring at this plant for weeks trying to figure out what it is. I got it as a cutting from a friend who got...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
October 25, 2009 - Deer are devastating understory in our woods. We have a highly resistant shrub purchased years ago at the state arboretum plant sale. It is about 5-6' tall, somewhat wider than that, many suckers/o...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification
April 01, 2009 - I have small shiny red berries growing on a tropical appearing shrub with green and marled yellow leaves. The leaves have widely serrated edges. The berries have a large seed inside and very little fl...
view the full question and answer

Identity of plant with cluster of bell-shaped flowers and 2 leaves
April 21, 2012 - In Kirtland, Ohio. Clay soil. Woodsy, moist area. Stem sticks up about 6 inches; stem is bare except for top inch, where 2 leaves and cluster of white drooping bell-like flowers appear. Ball-shaped ...
view the full question and answer

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