Sophora secundiflora Texas Mountain Laurel
Texas Mountain Laurel is gorgeous, fragrant, and tough. Fat clusters of fragrant purple blooms cover the plant in springtime. The shiny foliage is pretty year round. Silvery pods split open to reveal bright red seeds.
Native to Texas, Mountain Laurel thrives in zones 7-10. It needs full sun and good drainage (sand), loves heat, will tolerate a freeze. It grows slowly to about 8', is absolutely drought-tolerant, and looks lovely year round. A fine showpiece, it also makes a great hedge.
The brilliant seeds are used as beads, and ceremonially by the Plains Indians. All parts are toxic, so deer leave it alone (and so should your kids).
Sophora is easily grown from seed but doesn't transplant well. Nick and soak the seeds, then plant them in the ground. They'll germinate in a few weeks.
*Photo courtesy of www.azplantlady.com, a great blog for desert gardeners!