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Time again for Texas mountain laurel, and hardly the normal time for something else

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By February 18th I was already finding flowers on the Texas mountain laurels (Sophora secundiflora) in Austin. These two views are from the Southwest Greenway at the Mueller development in east-central Austin.

If it was time for Texas mountain laurel, mid-February was months before the normal time
for the common sunflower (Helianthus annuus), one of which I also found flowering there.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

UPDATE: I see the scientific name for Texas mountain laurel has been changed to Dermatophyllum secundiflorum.

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 24, 2019 at 4:48 AM

Texas mountain laurel

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The Texas mountain laurels (Sophora secundiflora) have been fragrantly—and some would say flagrantly—flowering all around Austin.

I took pictures of this Texas mountain laurel on March 13th along Shoal Creek Blvd. in north-central Austin. One of the tree’s branches rose well above the others:

The next day I visited the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where I got close and photographed a Texas mountain laurel flower opening:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 16, 2018 at 4:55 AM

Texas mountain laurel with dense flowers

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Texas Mountain Laurel Flowering 9616

On February 25th, 2013, I photographed a Texas mountain laurel, Sophora secundiflora, that was blossoming its head off. This is the bush whose flowers some people say smell like grape Kool-Aid.

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I’m still away from home. I welcome your comments, but please understand if I’m slow in responding from the other side of the world.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 25, 2015 at 6:00 AM

Like a wall of Texas mountain laurel

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Texas Mountain Laurel Flowering Densely 9571

Click for greater clarity.

While 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 densely flowering trees that made me feel I was looking at a wall. I found this floral “mural” of Texas mountain laurel at the edge of a shopping center parking lot on Great Hills Trail just east of US 183 on February 25. Now here we are in mid-March and I’m still seeing plenty of these blossoms around town; the cool spring we’ve been having may have helped them last so long.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 11, 2013 at 6:23 AM

Texas mountain laurel blossoms return

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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

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 23, 2013 at 6:20 AM

Texas mountain laurel detail

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Click for greater clarity.

And here’s a closer look at Texas mountain laurel, Sophora secundiflora, as some of its dense clusters of buds were beginning to open on February 19 at the Mueller Greenway in east-central Austin. Notice that the open flowers have a shape that characterizes so many in the pea family.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 24, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Texas mountain laurel flowering

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Click for greater detail.

Texas mountain laurel, Sophora secundiflora, is an evergreen shrub or small tree that has been flowering all over Austin for the past couple of weeks. Some say its blossoms smell like grape Kool-Aid, and people are generally split when it comes to that aroma, with one faction finding it wonderful and the other cloying. This picture, taken at the Mueller Greenway on February 19, shows how dense and appealing the clusters of flowers can be.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 24, 2012 at 5:24 AM

Mountain laurel

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Over here we’ve got Texas mountain laurel. At the Garden in the Woods in Framingham, Massachusetts, on June 12th I finally got to see the mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia, I’d heard about for years. Names to the contrary, neither of the mountain laurels is in the laurel family: the Texas one is a legume, while Kalmia belongs to the Ericaceae, or heather family.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 22, 2018 at 4:47 AM

Dark and light

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On June 12, 2018, at Garden in the Woods in Framingham, Massachusetts, I photographed the buds of black cohosh (Actaea racemosa). The only other place I’d ever seen black cohosh was in Arkansas in 2016.

The dense pentagonal flowers of mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) remain a highlight of my visit to Garden in the Woods. They’re quite different from those of the similarly named but botanically unrelated Texas mountain laurel that you’ve seen in these pages several times.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 12, 2019 at 4:34 AM

Diabrotica but not diabolical

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Cucumber Beetle on Texas Mountain Laurel Flowers 5540

When I got close to some Texas mountain laurel flowers, Sophora secundiflora, at the Mueller prairie restoration on February 17th I spotted this spotted cucumber beetle, Diabrotica undecimpunctata. Undecim is the Latin word for ‘one [plus] ten,’ which is to say ‘eleven,’ and that’s the number of spots (puncta) on this beetle (what would be the two center spots in the upper row merge). While we’re dealing with numbers, let me add that a cucumber beetle is about the same size as a lady beetle. In the realm of solid geometry, notice how the shape of the beetle mimics the convexity of the petals it’s on.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 1, 2016 at 4:54 AM

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