Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Texas mountain laurel blossoms return

with 21 comments

Texas Mountain Laurel Flowering 8309

On February 17th we wandered over to the prairie restoration at Austin’s former Mueller Airport and found that the Texas mountain laurels, Sophora secundiflora, had begun not a second flowering but their first one of the spring. Note the prominent pods left over from last year.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 23, 2013 at 6:20 AM

21 Responses

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  1. Ahhhhhh-giving me spring fever here in the iced in MO Ozarks! And making me homesick for TX too – aren’t these the blooms that smell like grape koolaid? or is that something else? K

    The Course of Our Seasons

    February 23, 2013 at 8:05 AM

    • I think that must be it. I always think they smell like Bubblegum, but grape koolaid would do it.

      shoreacres

      February 23, 2013 at 8:18 AM

      • It just occurred to me that we’ve got the cart before the horse, because Texas mountain laurel flowers existed long before grape Kool-Aid and bubblegum. When those products were first introduced to Texas, I wonder if people here said that they smelled like Texas mountain laurel flowers.

        Steve Schwartzman

        February 23, 2013 at 8:40 AM

    • I’ve heard about your wintry weather in the Ozarks. Still, spring should be headed your way soon.

      Yes, Texas mountain laurel flowers smell to some people like grape Kool-Aid. Too bad I can’t send the scent along with the picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 23, 2013 at 8:35 AM

  2. What a terrific photo. I’ve never seen one of these where the pods, leaves and blossoms were so completely entwined.

    shoreacres

    February 23, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    • Thanks. You make a good observation about the entwining of those three things. I’d taken the leaves for granted.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 23, 2013 at 8:49 AM

  3. First, I didn’t know Texas had mountains, and second I didn’t know Texas had mountain laurel–that’s our state flower in PA–of course, it’s likely a very different variety!

    Bernadette

    February 23, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    • The phrase Texas mountain laurel was meant to distinguish this species from mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia, which isn’t even related, being in the heath family rather than the legume family.

      As for mountains, Texas does have some in the western part of the state. The tallest are the Guadalupe Mountains, with a highest peak of 8,749 ft. In the 1800s, early Anglo settlers in Austin referred to the hills to the west of the original settlement as mountains. The term lingers in names like Mount Bonnell, a high point in Austin, even if it’s only 780 feet above sea level.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 23, 2013 at 9:57 AM

      • I thought those pods looked an awful lot like legumes. At first glance it almost looked like wisteria. I was only kidding about the mountains and Texas trying to steal our state flower!

        Bernadette

        February 23, 2013 at 10:56 AM

        • I didn’t take it seriously. And you couldn’t steal the Texas state flower, the bluebonnet, which wouldn’t grow in Pennsylvania. Each region has its own great flora.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 23, 2013 at 11:12 AM

  4. Quelle chance d’avoir des arbustes avec d’aussi belles fleurs sans devoir les rentrer en hiver!

    chatou11

    February 23, 2013 at 10:29 AM

  5. Very pretty! It will be awhile before we see flowers in our location…

    Roberta

    February 23, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    • We’re fortunate down here to be early beholders of flowers. I hope you don’t have too long to wait, but in the meantime you can warm up here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 23, 2013 at 6:00 PM

  6. Wonderful photo. Really pretty. The seed pods are still on my mt. laurel. And it is trying to bloom in the most pathtetic manner. The blooms are very small and do not look like anything of previous years spring blooms. I grew mine from several seeds that I planted back in the 70’s. Mine was stunted for many years before I finally was able to get underbrush and Japenese honeysuckle cleared away that was smothering this beautiful shrub. After the first year it began growing and I feel that the poor thing had to have breathed a sigh of relief. 🙂

    petspeopleandlife

    February 23, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    • I’m glad yours finally flourished. We’ve had a small one by the side of the house since we moved here in 2006 and it’s never done much of anything, including grow bigger.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 23, 2013 at 6:02 PM

  7. What an amazingly GORGEOUS tree!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in person. What’s their range?

    SmallHouseBigGarden

    February 23, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    • It’s a wonderful shrub/small tree, and plenty of people plant them here as ornamentals because of their flowers. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website gives the native range as “S. & c. TX, w. to mts. of s. NM and s. to San Luis Potosi in Mexico.” I hope you get to see one someday.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 23, 2013 at 9:48 PM

  8. […] addition to the Texas mountain laurel that we saw at the Mueller prairie restoration on February 17th, there was a particularly […]

  9. […] addition to the Texas mountain laurel that we saw at the Mueller prairie restoration on February 17th, there was a particularly […]

  10. […] the picture of Texas mountain laurel, Sophora secundiflora, that you saw last month was a decidedly vertical one, here’s a view showing the horizontal top of one of these […]


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