Question: I would like to ask for your
help in identifying a strange growth on Texas Mountain Laurel.
It is silvery-gray with spore like bumps. It grows from
the stem ? a round, pencil-size extension that flares like
a skirt. Some appeared shortly after flowering.
Answer: The Mountain Laurel doesn't bloom
for three reasons.
1. Does not receive enough light in its present location
2. Had gray-colored string-like bloom structure pruned
off in the fall or early spring. This refers to the racemes
(string like structures) of dormant flower buds. The flared
growth which you described perfectly is the fasciated growth
at the end of the racemes. If these structures are removed
in the summer or fall, bloom will not occur the following
year. Also, your observation that these structures occur
soon after bloom demonstrates the very narrow window of
opportunity to prune Mountain Laurel without decreasing
or eliminating the following year's bloom ? pruning must
occur shortly after spring bloom has occurred.
3. Had the flowering structure damaged by a late freeze
or hard freeze. At times, these "round, pencil-size
extensions that flare like a skirt" have larger fasciated
growths at the end of the racemes than normal. To prove
that these Mountain Laurel structures do produce blooms,
we have taken some images of their development.