Plant of the Month: Anacacho Orchid Tree
The Anacacho Orchid Tree is a small tree or multi-trunked shrub, 6′ to 12′ tall. Although uncommon in the wild, it can generally be found at nurseries that carry native plants. Its common name stems from the area where it is found growing naturally: the Anacacho Mountains of the western Edwards Plateau, where it is found growing in canyons and arroyos, primarily in Kinney County and a few other spots in Texas and northeast Mexico.
The other part of its name, Orchid Tree, refers to the attractive, fragrant white or pink orchid-like flowers, which appear in the spring, from March to May, and sometimes in the fall after heavy rains. The nectar in the flowers attracts butterflies and bees. Seeds occur in flattened pods, indicative of the fact that this plant is in the Pea Family (Fabaceae). When not in bloom, it’s unique leaves, resembling a cloven hoof, provide interest.
As would be expected from its native locations, Anacacho Orchid Tree does best in rocky, limestone soils. Good drainage is essential. Give it full sun to part shade. Locations on the south side of a building will offer protection from cold damage in severe winters. Although it is considered deer resistant, any new plant should be given protection. Small trees may need additional protection during the fall rutting season.
The Anacacho Orchid Tree is a NPSOT NICE!TM selection for Spring 2015. Previous ‘Plants of the Month’ can be found on the NPSOT Lindheimer Chapter Website.
Text by John Siemssen. Photos by Sally & Andy Wasowski, Annie Paulson Gillespie and Bruce Leander, Wildflower Center