The Texas Mountain Laurel Tree (Calia secundiflora). A great flowering small to a medium-sized evergreen tree. It will produce very fragrant purple hanging flowers in early spring and usually around late March to early April.
They grow up to 15-maybe 20 ft. tall and about 15 ft. wide. It loves full sun and thrives in and around the southwest. It is a moderate water tree once it becomes established. Typically after the 3rd year of planting.
The Texas Mountain Laurel can easily be trained into a small to medium-sized tree. Prune off the lower branches and suckers that will grow at the bottom of the tree (see image below). The flower smells like grape kool-aid!
Where to plant this tree?
Place it in full sun and water about every other day during the first 2-3 years after planting. Water about twice per month during the cold seasons. It tolerates poor soils but does better with well-composted soil.
The Texas Mountain Laurel Tree
The Texas Mountain Laurel as a bush
Here is the bush version of the above before trimming.
Problems with this tree?
It is disease and insect resistant. However, it will produce large seed pods that are toxic (see image below). It is important to be careful with these seeds when handling them.
Worms will attack this tree and they love the flower and the foliage. The Genista moth larvae are its main problem also called the sophora worm. Spray with Bacillus Thuringiensis also called BT. It comes in liquid and or powder form. Ask for a product called Thuricide (contains BT) at your local nursery it will do the job. BT is a biological pesticide. Learn more about this at Wikipedia.
Try picking these worms and their larvae one by one. Use a good pair of tweezers to do the job. You can also do your best to attract birds to your trees or garden. Most birds will eat worms and the larvae. Orioles and warblers love them. A good idea is to place a water fountain or large birdbath to attract these type of birds.
The seed pods of the Texas Mountain Laurel
They are highly intoxicating and so is the foliage. Here is a great post about the seed pods from the Texas Hill Country Website.
Paul Guzman – Husband, Father, Grandfather, Gardener, and Webmaster of GuzmansGreenhouse.com