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Featured Plant

Esperanza

Esperanza - Tecoma stans var. stans
Location: West end of the flowerbed in front of the Administration Building. (Map)

According to Vines1 Tecoma stans is an irregular tree or shrub that grows to a height of 24 feet, but Scott Ogden2 says that you will never see a Yellow Bells that tall in this part of Texas. The species grows in western and southern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Florida. It also is widely distributed in Central America, South America and the West Indies. Tecoma is from an Indian word that means "pot tree" and the specific epithet "stans" indicates the upright habit of the plant. The flower nectar is used by bees, and the Indians used the wood for bows. Today the many varieties of this plant that have been developed are popular landscape ornamentals.

There are two varieties on the Temple College campus. The second one, Tecoma stans var. angustrata is located at One College Centre. Golden Star Esperanza is a variety developed at Texas A&M University that is one of their "Texas Superstars." Ogden3 says that Tecoma stans functions as a perennial in frosty regions, and it is important for less than frost-free gardens to include the Tecoma stans var. angustrata that flowers longer and better withstands cold.

Esperanza is in the Family Bignoniaceae along with the familiar plants Catalpa, Cross Vine, Desert Willow and Trumpet Creeper. The brilliant yellow trumpet-shaped flowers form the long 4 to 6 inch capsule characteristic of this family. The seeds formed in the capsules are winged. The leaves are semi-deciduous/deciduous, bright green and toothed. This plant is heat-resistant and pest-resistant. It is hardy to 20 degrees, and grows best in full sun or light shade. Once the plant is well established it requires little water. They flower throughout the summer. In her book4, Jill Nokes says that Esperanza is like its cousin Desert Willow in that it will bloom more prolifically if established plants are allowed a "dry spell" between each deep watering. These two plants are genetically triggered to bloom during monsoon rains in the desert and may be less responsive to the steady moisture regimes of an irrigation system.

This plant is a great landscape choice either in masses in beds or in individual containers to brighten entryways and patios. The butterflies will enjoy your choice.


References:
1 Trees of Central Texas. Robert A. Vines, University of Texas Press. Austin, TX. pp. 353-355.
2 Gardening Success with Difficult Soils. Scott Ogden. Taylor Publishing. 1992
3 Ibid.
4 How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest. Revised Edition. Jill Nokes. University of Texas Press. Austin, TX.