En EspaŅol

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?


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
1 rating

Tuesday - August 14, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Poisonous Plants, Shrubs
Title: Removing Mountain Laurel Seed Pods from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Is it best to remove seed pods from Mt. Laurel or leave them on the tree?


We would recommend removing the seed pods from Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) when the pods first begin to appear. If you follow the plant link above, you will note this sentence in the first paragraph on our webpage on the plant:

"The brilliant, lacquer red seeds were valued by indigenous people for ornament and ceremonial use; they contain the highly poisonous alkaloid cytisine (or sophorine), a substance related to nicotine and widely cited as a narcotic and hallucinogen."

Since the seeds are very attractive, there is always the chance of a child, or perhaps a pet, finding one and taking a taste. If you wish to propagate the plant by use of seeds, here are Propagation Instructions from the same webpage:

"Description: Sow scarified seed after the soil has warmed in spring or fresh seed still swollen in pod in fall."

This would mean you could harvest and use the seed still in the pod before it falls to the ground, possibly to be picked up. The plant is difficult to propagate and slow-growing; please read all of our webpage on the Mountain Laurel to help understand how to take care of it.



From the Image Gallery

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Shrubs Questions

Non-allergenic landscape in Fairfield, CT
April 18, 2009 - I live in Fairfield, CT and need to have a non-allergenic landscape. Can you please list plants, ground covers, and trees/shrubs that would be beautiful, and help in this critical situation? The lan...
view the full question and answer

Why is cedar pollen so heavy this year?
January 08, 2011 - Dear Mr Smarty, Is this year a heavier than normal year for cedar pollen?? If so why?
view the full question and answer

Hedge to cover chain link fence
September 04, 2010 - Hi, I would like to hide 250 feet of 6' tall chain link fence on a western facing, sloped, very rocky soiled back yard I had to use a jack hammer to dig the holes. Esthetically I would like to be abl...
view the full question and answer

Mystery shrub in Michigan
July 18, 2011 - I live in the upper peninsula of Michigan and noticed a shrub in the woods that has large clusters of small red, what I would call berries on it. Can you give me some n...
view the full question and answer

Control of non-native invasive Japanese Barberry from Enfield NH
April 22, 2014 - I recently bought a home that is bordered by woods and a sizable area of invasive Japanese Barberry growing on a steep hill in and around a stone wall making it that much harder to dig up. I've alway...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center