Sophora Species, Texas Mountain Laurel, Mescal Bean

Sophora secundiflora

Family: Fabaceae (fab-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sophora (SOF-or-uh) (Info)
Species: secundiflora (sek-und-ee-FLOR-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Broussonetia secundiflora
Synonym:Calia secundiflora
Synonym:Sophora sempervirens
Synonym:Sophora speciosa




Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade




This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:



8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:


Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

8.6 to 9.0 (strongly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Vincent, Alabama

Buckeye, Arizona

Florence, Arizona

Green Valley, Arizona

Hereford, Arizona

Mesa, Arizona(3 reports)

Phoenix, Arizona(2 reports)

Queen Creek, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona(5 reports)

Wickenburg, Arizona

Canoga Park, California

Riverside, California

Beverly Hills, Florida

Brooksville, Florida

Deerfield Beach, Florida

Keystone Heights, Florida

Lake City, Florida

Lecanto, Florida

Wauchula, Florida

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

Lake Charles, Louisiana

Henderson, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

Roswell, New Mexico

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Moyock, North Carolina

Florence, South Carolina

Adkins, Texas

Alice, Texas(2 reports)

Anderson, Texas

Arlington, Texas(2 reports)

Austin, Texas(9 reports)

Belton, Texas(2 reports)

Brady, Texas

Brazoria, Texas

Brownsville, Texas

Canyon Lake, Texas

Cedar Park, Texas

Coldspring, Texas

Columbus, Texas

Coppell, Texas

Copperas Cove, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Decatur, Texas

Deer Park, Texas

Dickinson, Texas

Dripping Springs, Texas

El Paso, Texas

Elmendorf, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas(2 reports)

Georgetown, Texas(3 reports)

Giddings, Texas

Granbury, Texas

Hallettsville, Texas

Harlingen, Texas(2 reports)

Hondo, Texas(2 reports)

Houston, Texas(2 reports)

Huntington, Texas

Iredell, Texas

Katy, Texas

Kerrville, Texas

Kyle, Texas

Lampasas, Texas

Laredo, Texas

League City, Texas

Leakey, Texas

Leander, Texas(2 reports)

Little Elm, Texas

Mc Kinney, Texas

Menard, Texas

Midland, Texas

Missouri City, Texas

Mullin, Texas

New Caney, Texas

Pflugerville, Texas

Pipe Creek, Texas

Plano, Texas

Port Lavaca, Texas

Portland, Texas

Richmond, Texas

San Angelo, Texas(2 reports)

San Antonio, Texas(8 reports)

San Benito, Texas

San Marcos, Texas(2 reports)

Southlake, Texas

Spicewood, Texas

Spring Branch, Texas

Stephenville, Texas

Sugar Land, Texas

Tarpley, Texas

Temple, Texas

The Colony, Texas

Uvalde, Texas

Hurricane, Utah

Saint George, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Toquerville, Utah

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 1, 2021, UtahTropics12 from Salt Lake City, UT (Zone 7b) wrote:

I have had GREAT success with Texas Mountain Laurel here in Salt Lake City, Utah (zone 7b). Ive had it in a sheltered south facing court yard for going on 10 years now! I purchased this plant in Phoenix, and was very curious to see how it would fare here further north. It has stayed completely evergreen and has suffered basically NO DAMAGE even in our toughest winters at 5 F. It has even taken snow like a complete champ! The blooms are so intoxicatingly good smelling its ridiculous, it smells like pure grape soda ( A good grape soda). I have been so very pleased with this beautiful desert tree! It has gained some serious height and blooms every single year, even after brutal winters. This is a PERFECT tree for the desert south west!


On Nov 29, 2017, Mildcat from Escondido, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Thank you to all who have passed on their wisdom here about how to treat the plant, control the Genista moth caterpillars, and grow the plant from seed. I'm giving it a Neutral rating because I have only just acquired a (quite pricey) sapling from Monrovia nursery. I've had this plant on my garden wish-list for years and have searched for it every now and then without success. Despite what appears to be a suitable climate, no-one seems to be growing them in this area yet (north of San Diego). My new plant is a 4' single stem and looks very healthy.
Wish me luck!


On Oct 7, 2016, terrencecox from Green Valley, AZ wrote:

I started two of these plants two years ago in containers. The seeds were germinated without nicking, but did soak the seeds. They were growing slowly, but leaved out pretty well with about twenty leaves each. This summer caterpillars of the giant swallowtail butterfly ate parts of both plants. There were about 1/2 doz. cats altogether. I'll probably start a couple/few of these plants each year just for these butterflies. Eventually I might plant one or more in the ground.


On Sep 29, 2015, fish_craze from Laredo, TX wrote:

I grow these and sell them at the farmers market in the spring. I end up with an 85% germination rate by using a dremel with a grinder attachment, or just a plain old file, and nick the red seed coat just until you see the white bean underneath just beside the eye. I soak them overnight and they will swell up. Take the soaked bean and lay it on it's side and I plant at at depth of 1/4-1/2" deep in Solo cups with a couple of drain holes drilled through the bottom. If birds or rodents are are problem, you may want to protect it in a cage or net. I water them lightly every few days. To the poster that talked about worms in the seeds, I think you overwatered and the seeds rotted. I have had this happen to me in the past, too. Usually whats going to germinate will come up in a couple of weeks. ... read more


On Mar 27, 2014, nbaltz from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

Probably one of my favorite shrubs. It is slow growing, but can be pruned into a nicely shaped small tree given sufficient time. My plant thrives incredibly well planted next to a southwest facing block wall that receives punishing reflective heat during the Phoenix summer. It seems the hotter it is, the better this plant will grow. Stays evergreen throughout the year and from February-March its flowers produces a marvelous scent rivaled only by freesia. The Texas Mountain Laurel is a host plant for gentista broom moth caterpillars. In early spring and middle of the fall, the freshest growth is defoliated by these caterpillars which form a silk-like tent around the ends of the branches.


On Apr 3, 2013, robertaelaine from Hebron, TX wrote:

I need an answer to my question about how to treat a
Texas Mountain Laurel with pale green, unhealthy leaves.

Elaine Simmons


On Sep 2, 2011, Bronto from Scottsdale, AZ wrote:

Remarkable plant, 3 year established specimen withstood 116F Phoenix heat, near a hot masonry wall with midday sun. In this position it did require daily irrigation, and grew vigorously in spite of the cactus shriveling heat. Does not seem to drop leaves even in winter. Subject to a summer caterpillar which attacked the new growing leaves, treated with Sevin and physical removal of the pests.


On Apr 19, 2011, Mimmie from Granbury, TX wrote:

I live in Granbury a few miles SW of Ft Worth on the Brazos River with LIMESTONE and alkaline soil but my beautiful 5 yr old TX Mountain Laurel has never bloomed. I get excited and anticipate the "grapes" each spring and then nothing. Plenty of sun. What sadness! Does it bloom here before the new leaves grow or after? Maybe April is too early here.


On Apr 17, 2011, rkmontg342 from Sugar Land, TX wrote:

We have a huge Texas Mountain Laurel tree in our front yard. It blooms usually about the end of February into March. The bees have a ball. The birds enjoy its branches including the little hummers who rest there. The lawn service employees rest in its shade at lunch time. We have it stacked because the multi-trunks are leaning. Hurricane Ike hit and took the middle trunk which was not stacked. Now, from certain angles, it looks split down the middle from ground to top. We are hoping that space will eventually fill in with new branches. Meanwhile, we are having trouble finding a trustworthy tree company to come and look to see if the current stakes need to be replaced. Or, the trunks need more stakes. Overall, this is a great tree and makes it through drought and cold snaps.


On Mar 5, 2011, beazert from Decatur, TX wrote:

I love this little tree, but it is definitely variable in what it will or won't do. I planted four in a line about 8 feet apart five years ago. One is 4' high and bushy; the others haven't grown much at all (could be because they are NOT in well-drained soil), and of those, one gets terribly chewed up by caterpillars. Of the others I have planted, three were finally killed by caterpillars last year; the other two are doing just fine and don't seem to get infested at all. I had read that it wouldn't handle the cold (it gets to 9 degrees of so here), but that has not seemed to be an issue.


On Jun 1, 2010, wormfood from Lecanto, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I went to transplant a 2" seedling from a small pot to the ground. The root was 8" long ! I planted the root as deep as it needed and it's doing very well.


On May 23, 2010, ainethewise from San Antonio, TX wrote:

We have a large one in our backyard. It blooms beautifully and is covered with seed pods. It reaches as high as the top of our roof. I also tried to propogate seeds but with no luck. However, they seem to just sprout naturally all under the tree. I have been digging them up by the handfuls and putting them in one gallon pots. At first, I tried transplanting them and they died. Now, I fill the bottom and the top of the pot with mulch. Put in dirt and the little plant. Keep mostly in the shade and drench with water every few days and they are doing fine. We had put out a couple of nursery grown plants a year ago and they lost almost all their leaves when we planted them. They are fine now. I think it is just too hot in San Antonio and too much sun for the new seedlings. Don't kn... read more


On May 7, 2010, amscram from Baton Rouge, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I bought a little plant in Austin, TX 10 years ago and it's about 6 feet tall now. Sometimes it blooms (love the grape kool-aid scent!) and puts out beautiful lustrous green shoots; but then certain branches will die back during some, but not all years. I realize that it prefers the drier climate of Texas and is probably not all that happy here in humid South Louisiana, but it has hung in there!


On Jul 25, 2009, kwilson55 from El Paso, TX wrote:

This is an awesome tree. I was told to water the heck out of it for the first three years. Then don't water to much. I have had ours for seven years now. It is 8ft. tall & about 12 ft. wide. It is beautiful!!
Here is my problem: It has so many caterpillars, then they weave a web. Loll like it kills the new growth. I had to cut off the new growth. A lot of it. I spray it with insecticide now for three months. We have been having a lot of rain here in El Paso.

Good Luck with yours...........


On Jul 9, 2009, trackinsand from mid central, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

i just got tired of waiting for this one to grow. i think it grew 3" in 2 yrs. and the citrus root weevils loved it so i dug it up. i had high hopes for this one but my expectations were too high-that grape kool-aid thing got to me!


On May 23, 2009, jimmycade from San Antonio, TX wrote:

We live in San Antonio. We purchased a single plant from Home Depot that was about a foot tall from a 1 gallon container. It had one bloom on it. After the first six months I ignored it. Now, three years later it is well over 8 feet tall and it has bloomed (fully) two years in a row.


On May 22, 2009, Pat107 from Cedar Park, TX wrote:

My husband and I live north of Austin Texas. We planted a our small Mountain Laurel about 3 yrs ago. Beware: this tree is a slow grower! We did not realize this when we planted it. If you are looking for a fast grower and for it to flower right away, you may want to choose something else. We truly enjoy the beauty of this tree and the blooms this year were gorgeous! I noticed the seed pods on ours for the first time this year. Knowing how slowly this tree grows, I think we will just buy another tree and much larger this time. I enjoyed reading everyones comments on this beautiful tree!


On Apr 16, 2009, kayleerae from Huntington, TX wrote:

This plant was a gift for my birthday from a friend. She could not find it in our local nurseiers so she had to order it. It was 2 years before I ever saw a bloom. I must saw it was very beautiful. This plant grows very slowly for me. I dare not take the chance on moving it now. I have had it about 6 years and it may have grown 10-16 inches. It is now at about 2 ft tall. Again this year, has it has for the past 4 years, gave me a handful of blooms. I never knew to look for the seed pods. I will be on the look out now for sure as it has just finished my yearly handful of blooms. Any suggestions on helping it bloom more.


On Apr 15, 2009, ptkexpres from Rolla, MO (Zone 5b) wrote:

I grew this wonderful plant when I lived in Stephenville, TX and it delighted me when in bloom with the fragrance of grape Koolade. To my regret it is not hardy in zone 5 where I now live! :- (


On Nov 8, 2008, pongsak from Chiang Mai,
Thailand (Zone 11) wrote:

I grow this plant from seeds for 6 months now. I have two seedlings and they still have only 4 leaves. Very slow. Should I do anything to help them grow faster?


On Apr 15, 2008, laura1234 from Menard, TX wrote:

we planted about 5 seeds per hole last year as we heard the seeds can be tricky (we didn't try soaking or nicking the first). several came up after a few weeks, much longer than other seeds, so be patient. all of the seedlings lasted through the winter, and it gets quite cold here--10F was the lowest.

now this spring, i had 3 more pop up in a space where a little one was already growing! which leads me to believe that the seeds aren't so hard to grow after all, you just have to be very, very patient with them. they seem to lie dormant for a long time if conditions aren't right for sprouting.


On Jan 29, 2008, Kada from Southern,
Taiwan wrote:

i use a thin file or serrated knife to nick the opposite side as the eye of the seed....just barely going through the entire outer red shell...then soak for only one day as it will expand a LOT if nicked right. plant in soil and we had them sprout in no more than 1 week.

here in taiwan they are are only 2 feet at 1.5 years :( but thats grown in pots, not in the ground.


On Mar 2, 2007, Noeule from Houston, TX wrote:

My friend and I have tried several methods of spouting mature, dry Texas Mountain Laurel seeds that we collected while hunting wild hogs in Uvalde Texas. I will not bore you with all the methods that did not work. This is the one that works for me at least 90% of the time. This plant also grows wild on property we own near San Marcos TX.

1. Collect seeds from the ground below Mountain Laurel plants or harvest from mature pods.
2. Drill a hole through the eye (attachment points) of each seed toward the center using a dremel, fordum, or other power drill. Drill sufficiently to penetrate the meat of the seed about 1-2 millimeter. I use a V shaped grinder bit rather than a wood bit. It takes considerable pressure to drill the holes. You will need a method of ho... read more


On Mar 9, 2006, Gustichock from Tandil,
Argentina (Zone 10b) wrote:

I love this tree!
First time I saw it was in Arizona. Its fruit look like a big peanut shell!
Its red seeds are very hard to break! I was so nahive back in those days that I seeded them directly without pre-soaking them or without rubbing them against sandpaper! Three years later they are still coming out in different pots!
Excellent surprise! I only have three! It's a slow growing tree and I can't wait until they bloom!!


On Feb 12, 2006, lp117 from Santa Maria, CA wrote:

We planted this over two years ago and finally this spring (Feb) it has blooms all over and finally showing some signs of life and growing new leaves! We are in central California!!


On Apr 10, 2005, vossner from East Texas,
United States (Zone 8a) wrote:

i love the the grape koolaid scent in the blooms but brother! this has been an incredibly slow plant for me. Planted in full sun w/ adequate water, don't know what I'm doing wrong, if anything.
Mar 2018: Changed rating to positive b/c this plant truly is no maintenance and so tough. Still consider it incredibly slow. Can be grown as a small tree or a large shrub.


On Mar 14, 2005, aurora222 from Victoria, TX wrote:

My tree is in full bloom and I should have some seeds to share in about a month, if anyone is interested. Hopefully, you will be able to get them to sprout.


On Nov 8, 2004, PvillePlanter from Pflugerville, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I like these a lot, but they are not the easiest to grow or maintain. Germination is quite slow and spotty as is subsequent growth. Roots grow very deep so they need deep watering but require very good drainage. They also don't compete very well for space, water, or nutrients with other close plantings. I use to have 2 of them but I lost a well established one quite suddenly to cotton rot last summer. Which reminds me, they are not very disease resistant either.


On Aug 10, 2004, Martha_Johnson from Lampasas, TX wrote:

I purchased four trees that had beautiful blooms full of fragrance from a nursery, and they are are doing really well. However, I found one with branches covered in webbing with caterpillers inside (gross!!!!).

I researched the caterpiller and found that they are Genista caterpillars...I sprayed with a pesticide and cut off the damaged foliage--hopefully I didn't kill my beautiful tree.

I really love my trees - I hate the pest not the tree!


On Jul 16, 2004, Tcrow from Georgetown, TX wrote:

I collected about 100 red seeds from the ground at the Austin Zilker Garden's about five years ago. I put them in the yard in different locations and long since forgot about them. At the time, I didn't know about sanding or cracking the shell to get it started.

This spring, I was weeding a rose bush in a pot and pulled one of these out. I was so excited. I have since put the two sprouts (out of 100) into individual pots. I hope these two make beautiful trees. I can't wait to get my hands on more seeds.


On Jun 21, 2004, rntx22 from Puyallup, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I live in the Houston area & have admired a row of these trees in my neighbors yard for several years. Last spring I got curious took a seed pod. (Can't remember if it was on the ground or on the tree. It still had the soft velvety coat)

Not knowing what kind of tree it was or how to plant it, I just opened the shell, took out the seed, and plopped it in a small clay pot with regular potting soil and put it on the patio. No special treatments, that was all I did. Guess I got lucky because lo and behold, a few weeks later it sprouted!! By the end of the growing season last year, it was 6" tall & had 8 leaves. It pretty much stayed that way all winter, then this spring it had a nice growth spurt. Now it's about 8" tall, has 38 leaves, and the beginning of 7 little branche... read more


On Apr 29, 2004, annabr wrote:

I live in Houston and recently planted 200 seeds in small containers. I read the information about soaking and nicking to help seeds germinate. We got excited when we saw 10 little sprouts come up about two and half weeks later. After about two more weeks and no new sprouts we got curious.

I dug a little in some of the containers and found following:
Seed was not there; itlooked like inside of Cadbury egg.
Seed looked like a tiny ball of sand; in some cases I could see really little white bugs and eggs.


On Mar 23, 2004, texasrose57 from Pipe Creek, TX wrote:

We live in the Texas Hill Country between San Antonio and Bandera. The mountain laurels grow wild and are absolutley beautiful this time of year. The majority are a deep purple with a few that are more lavender in color. Interestingly enough, I have 2 pure white trees behind our house. I have collected the beans underneath and will attempt to get them started but I have been unable to find any data regarding white mountain laurels.


On Mar 22, 2004, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Texas Mountain Laurel is a beautiful large shrub or small tree. Mine is about six feet tall now, after 5 years of loving care and this spring for the first time it came into full bloom. What a beautiful sight it is, and the scent perfumes the whole yard. We are thrilled and feel blessed to have it. We highly recommend it, but it is not for the impatient gardener.


On Mar 22, 2004, jperrault from San Antonio, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Something is eating the new leafs off the montain laurel and I'm wondering if I should put out slug bait or spray the tree.


On Mar 21, 2004, new2texastoo wrote:

I just collected about 200 laurel seeds, and wonder if it would help just to crack the hard red shell.


On Mar 9, 2004, Pua from San Antonio, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

A truly beautiful shrub. They make us smile when they come in in bloom at the nursery I work at in SA. Two tips to keep in mind when purchasing one:
l. If it's not in bloom, look for one with evidence that it has bloomed before. Otherwise you could have a long wait for this "mind of its own" bloomer.
2. Don't ever fertilize it.


On Jan 9, 2004, KARLAE from Freeport, TX wrote:

We have one close to the house in a full sun southwest corner of the sidewalk and another one about 30 feet away.

It's about 10' tall and has bloomed a lot for the last few years.

I just let the pods fall off the tree and lay in the bark mulch underneath until the shells rot. We usually have 8-10 seedlings at any given time. I've had good luck replanting the seedlings into pots. .


On Jan 9, 2004, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

An attractive tree that provides beautiful blooms and wonderful aroma when in bloom. It is usually a very slow grower, however. I read somewhere that you must have 2 mountain laurel trees near each other in order for them to bloom.


On Oct 16, 2003, Cathi from Owasso, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Excellent native plant. Smells like grape Koolaid when it blooms. I sand and thin the hard coat shell. Very heat tolerant, drought tolerant. Even did well in our ice storm last February. Still bloomed on time.


On Aug 2, 2003, dstartz from Deep South Texas, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

The seeds for this plants must be collected while the pod is still green to be truly viable. Nick or deeply scar the seed coat; soak seed for approx. 24 hours. If the seed swells it will most probably germinate.

This plant dislikes being transplanted because of it's deep tap root, so use a DEEP container(i.e. 44 oz fountain drink cup) for starting seeds.

Seeds can take up to 6-8 months to germinate.


On Jul 28, 2003, TyKelly from Mullin, TX wrote:

Collect the seed pods while still green and before seed turn hard and red. Plant at once for best results.


On Apr 29, 2003, coastcourt wrote:

Planted about 3 yrs ago about 3ft tall in a slightly sloped SW bed corner. Told by nursery not to expect blooms or much growth for years. Surprise! Its at least 10 ft tall and presented 3 handful size deep purple blooms in March. I'm waiting for the seeds to mature in the cluster and rattle. Problem: It has to be staked and I wonder if I shoud have trimed it. I don't know if it is shrub or tree catagory..Some branches are coming out from bottom.


On Feb 19, 2003, amazing from Tucson, AZ wrote:

After researching propagation on Southwest Gardening sites, I broke open the hard shell and rubbed the hard red seed with sandpaper. They have been soaking for 1 week in water. I'm going to try planting them soon in pots with a mixture of our clay soil and potting soil. I hope this is the proper method. I'll let you know if they sprout.

After 2 more weeks of soaking, they were planted and watered regularly. It is now April 7 and a sprout has just appeared!!! One sprout out of approximately 15 seeds. Hopefully, there are more to come!