Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Mescal Bean Tree Adventures

A baby tree!

I wanted to write about my adventures in trying to start some Mescal Bean Trees in my yard but I have not gotten around to doing it until today. I discovered these trees in Tucson a couple years ago and each time I came across one in bloom I was amazed by the incredible grape candy scent that gave me an instant sense of "de ja vu" probably reminding me of carefree childhood days with grape bubblegum!
The flowers were so beautiful and the scent so tantalizing that I really wanted one or more of these trees growing in my yard. I found one little tree, about 2 foot tall at a local nursery and brought that home to plant. Despite my best efforts it hasn't done well, losing many of the leaves on some branches and just not appearing to show any growth! When reading online about them I discovered that they are indeed difficult to transplant, having a very long tap root, and not doing well when moved from one location to another.
So I have continued to provide it water, and lots of hope and FINALLY I am seeing some growth (middle picture)!
In the mean time I have collected seeds from some of these trees that grow in the public areas of Tucson and have researched online the best way to get them to sprout- I tried sanding and soaking and nicking the outside of the seed but nothing seemed to cause them to swell up and sprout!
Many of my failed seeds, went into various places in my garden, not because I thought they would really grow- but because I couldn't bear to throw them away!
Anyway yesterday I discovered a tiny little plant growing next to my bougainvillea, in a place some of the discarded seeds were planted! I dug down just a pinch and found that it was indeed one of the seeds I had planted!
I am so thrilled! I am sure the picture doesn't look like much yet- it is just a tiny little sprout- but oh the joy of seeing it! I can't wait to see how it grows and hope and pray I can transplant it to a more suitable area of my yard, once it has gotten some decent growth on it! I'll sure be watching for others to come up now too!
The Mescal Bean trees real name is Mountain Laurel-Sophora secundiflora - Fabaceae, Bean Family!


No Rain said...

You're right that Texas Mountain Laurel is hard to start from seeds! I've tried for years, without any luck. I sanded, soaked, even used a turpentine soak as one source suggested and nothing. I almost bought a 24" boxed tree of the silver leafed variety this past spring, but it was so expensive that I decided not to take the change because of the low transplant success. The nursery guaranteed it for a year, but sometimes one year isn't enough to see it "take". Congratulations on your success!

Laura said...

Congrats on the new baby tree! Isnt amazing what smell can do to memory. One of the best reasons to have these plants around :)

Dee said...

Hi Aiyana- from what I have read the best time to try the seeds is before they turn red- or when the seed just has a small patch of red on it! This little tree came from a completely white seed- no sanding was done- just soaked for a few days. The red on the seeds in the picture developed during the soaking stage. They didn't swell so I just planted them in odd places.
I've collected multiple times recently and it appears that the seeds are just about to the optimal stage so if you have any trees nearby give it another try!

Laura: I wish I could bottle this scent!