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Texas Sophora is a native upright shrub or small tree usually found on limestone soils, creek banks and rocky hills throughout East and Central Texas, as well as in the Edwards Plateau region.
Can grow to a height of 25 to 30 feet with spreading branches and a rounded crown
Is a member of the legume family
Has alternating compound leaves with leaflets that are 3 to 9 inches long, with the leaves 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches long, 1/2 inch wide and slightly hairy
White to pink ½-inch flowers are “pea like” and hang in clusters that are 2 to 6 inches long. They generally bloom in May/June and are frequented by many pollinator species
Produces fruit that are black beans, tightly constricted around each seed and varying in number from 1 to 8 per seed pod. The seeds have been reported to be poisonous to humans, but many species of birds and animals use them as a food source.
Texas Sophora is also called “Eve’s necklace” because the seed pods resemble beads on a necklace or a string of beads.
The plant is commonly grazed by domestic stock and is a fair browse plant for whitetail deer. Texas Sophora is rapidly gaining popularity with landscapers as a feature plant in native landscaping projects around the state.
Texas Sophora is rarely a problem on grazing lands and is thought of as an asset to the plant community.
Editor’s note: Kent Ferguson, retired rangeland management specialist from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is providing us with plant identification photo stories to help ranchers identify those forbs, forages and species growing in the pastures. Additional photos provided by USDA NRCS.
Texas Sophora is excerpted from the August 2018 issue of The Cattleman magazine.