Lovely purple Texas mountain laurel flowers are currently in full bloom after surviving a cold and damp desert winter.

Prepare to soon walk past a spot from which a soft, grape scent is escaping. If so, you will have experienced a signal that Texas mountain laurel trees (Sophora secundiflora) are in flower. Friendly discussions have not decided whether the scent smells like bubblegum, grape Kool-Aid, or soda. Whatever you decide, enjoy it because the blossoms fade fairly quickly, along with their fresh, sweet aroma.

This small tree is a native of the Texas Hill Country and northeastern Mexico. It is also known by several other names: mescal bean, sophora, and in Mexico, "frijolito." From rocky limestone soil, it is quite slow growing, eventually reaching 15 to 20 feet high with a spread of 8 to 10 feet. If you do not want to wait some years for a mature landscape tree, it is recommended to begin with a larger propagated one of at least 15-gallon size.

Mary Kidnocker is a University of Arizona Master Gardener who lives in the Green Valley area. 

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