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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

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