We love Eve’s Necklace for a lot of different reasons.  While the botanists have changed the name to Styphnolobium affine (Torr. & A. Gray) Walp., I have such a hard time pronouncing the new name, so I’m still stuck on Sophora affinis.  Eve’s Necklace is a sweet little tree that calls home the limestone soils from central Texas through north central Texas and then west to Edward’s plateau.  The tree is reported to reach 35′ but most are half that.  Rose to pinkish flowers are produced in early spring Wisteria-like clusters which are followed by black fruit pods that resemble a string of beads, thus the common name.  The tree in seed is quite showy.  Like its cousin, the Texas mountain laurel, the seeds are poisonous.  Rule: Don’t graze in the landscape.  In our region for best flowering the tree needs full sun and for for best survival in our region the tree needs superior drainage.  Planting on a slight berm is helpful.   The tree is remarkably alkaline and drought tolerant.  If you can’t grow Eve’s necklace, you need to change hobbies.

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A really nice pink form at SFA Gardens

I have gone to recommending Eve’s necklace instead of crape myrtle in those regions afflicted crape myrtle bark scale, a new and devastating insect pest.  Eve’s Necklace is easy to train as a single trunk or multi-leader and prunes up nicely to a little round headed small flowering tree.  Great little tree for that special spot in front of Burger King.

One of my long term goals has been a showier Eve’s Necklace.  Most flowers are kind of a washy pink.  However, if you look close in central Texas, in the wild and in landscapes, there’s great variety from burgundy to almost white.  Paul Cox, past Director of the San Antonio Botanical Garden, found an especially dark flower form and named it ‘Amy’.  We planted out about 50 of the seedlings from that tree and have some candidates for introduction, albeit none quite as dark as the parent.

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Paul Cox near the San Antonio Zoo, Mar 2013, on the hunt for the dark Eve’s Necklace

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Sophora affinis ‘Amy’, a Paul Cox find in San Antonio near the Zoo

At SFA, the seedling plots are located under the high voltage lines at along the coliseum parking lot and we interspersed Callicarpa American ‘Welch’s Pink’ seedlings in between.  It’s a brilliant idea.  Waste land and an opportunity to find a pinker beautyberry and a rosier Eve’s necklace.  They’ve been in flower for a few years and we’re pulling seed from the best colored forms.

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Seedlings of ‘Amy’

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One of our selections

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We’re a long way from being at Home Depot

Eve’s necklace is a great small tree for the deep South.  We’ve given the seed a short soak in sulfuric acid and gotten high germination and have also found the seed to come up on its own quite reliably.  In fact, in our landscape we see seedlings popping up here and there but it’s not a big nuisance.   In areas with heavier rains and soil drainage issues, plant on a berm in well drained soil.  This is a tree that loves full sun and once well established it’s there to stay.  It’s trouble free, east to train, showy in bloom and showy in seed pods.  Yes, the seed is poisonous and neighbors, kids and animals should be warned not to graze in the landscape.  In Texas, we just consider that a given.

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