The Mescal bean, also known as Texas mountain laurel, slowly grows into a large evergreen shrub or small tree, eventually 15-20 ft. tall, 10-15 ft. wide. Dark shiny green leaves that are pinnately divided into 1-2 in. long leaflets; colorful clusters of highly fragrant violet pea-shaped flowers occur in early spring. Numerous silver-gray bean-like pods grow 2-5 in. long, persist for several months and contain highly poisonous seeds.
Mescal bean is native to arid climate regions of the southwest, from New Mexico and Texas to northern Mexico. It is well adapted to Inland Empire climate conditions where it tolerates sun, heat, aridity and drought. It grows best in well-drained soils with moist winters and low amounts of summer water. It is used as a background plant, in raised planters and in courtyards where its deep green foliage and fragrant flowers are appreciated. One cultivar, S. s. ‘Silver Peso’, has striking silvery-gray foliage color with a slower growth rate to 15 ft. tall.