Dermatophyllum secundiflora is the Plant of the Month!

Dermatophyllum secundiflora, Texas mountain laurel, large-sized shrub

The upright, evergreen grows to heights of eight to fifteen feet and six to ten feet wide with a grayish-black trunk that darkens at the plant matures. It is recognized by its beautiful, fragrant flowers that are dark lavender to purple. The plant produces leaflets that are thick, leathery, rounded, and glossy, dark green. In spring, wisteria-like flower clusters appear and hang down from the branches in a spectacular show lasting for several weeks. After the blooms die, thick, dark seedpods develop and eventually open to contain poisonous, orange seeds. Texas mountain laurel is a slow-growing plant, so it is recommended to purchase and plant a fifteen-gallon plant to enjoy its immediate beauty. The plant is hardy to ten degrees Fahrenheit and likes full sun and reflected heat. It also prefers well-draining, dry, alkaline soil and supplemental irrigation during hot, dry weather. Watch for signs of the larvae of the pyralid moth or Uresiphita reversalis that can infest the plant, mainly feeding on its foliage. In spring, treat it with a systemic insecticide if needed, or hand pick the larvae from the leaves. Use it as a landscape specimen in patios and courtyards, as a screen, as a small patio tree, in groupings, on medians, along roadways, and around pools and areas that get intense, reflected heat. The variety ‘Silver Peso’ has exquisite silvery-gray foliage. This shrub is native to southern New Mexico and south and central Texas, growing below 5,000 feet.

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