Talk About Smells! In Praise of Texas Mountain Laurel

A couple of days ago, I blogged on the power of smell to stir up memories. Before I leave the topic of smells, I thought I might add a further reflection.

A blooming Texas Mountain Laurel plant in my front yard.

A few nights ago, I stepped out of my front door.  Taking a deep breath, I was surprised to find the air redolent of sweet grape soda. I knew that smell, but didn’t expect it for a couple of weeks. It came from the blossoms of the Texas Mountain Laurel, one of my very favorite plants.

The Texas Mountain Laurel (sophora secundiflora) is found in Hill Country of Texas and to the west in the Trans-Pecos region. It becomes a very large shrub (30 feet high) or small tree. It is an extraordinary plant for several reasons:

• It has bright green, almost spring-like leaves, which is unusual for native plants in this part of Texas
• It is evergreen.
• It is extraordinarily hearty and drought resistant.
• In the early spring, it is covered with beautiful purple flowers that smell like grape soda.

You can see Texas Mountain Laurel all over the Hill Country because it is indigenous to the area. But you don’t see it nearly as much as you might expect in landscaped yards. The reason for this is that the Texas Mountain Laurel is quite hard to transplant. Moreover, it grows very slowly. If you plant one of these beauties, you have to be patient.

I now associate the unique smell of the Texas Mountain Laurel with the beginning of spring. I’m curious, are there plants that say “spring” to you?

 


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