Necklace pod is a charming choice for pollinator-friendly landscapes. This native shrub features graceful foliage and bright yellow blooms that attract butterflies all year long. Necklace pod is also a perfect coastal plant — highly salt and drought tolerant. It makes a nice substitute for invasive Lantana and Christmas cassia, too.
Sophora tomentosa subsp. truncata is a Florida native species. Sophora tomentosa subsp. occidentalis is native to Texas, but does well in South Florida, too. Both subspecies are well suited for USDA Hardiness Zones 9b-11. In cooler regions they will need cold protection. Even the roots may not survive a freeze.
Silvery hairs on the young leaves of Sophora tomentosa subsp. occidentalis are the only distinguishing factor reported. Otherwise, these two varieties are almost identical. Most necklace pod sold commercially is the Texas-native variety. Our Florida-native variety can be found in native nurseries.
At maturity, necklace pod grows into a medium-sized shrub. It usually reaches no more than 6 to 10 feet tall and 4 to 8 feet wide. The canopy is round or vase-shaped, open, but not sparse. It can also be pruned smaller and makes a good loose hedge. Long, compound leaves give the shrub a soft, graceful texture. Necklace pod's leaves are silvery green, and develop a glossy sheen as they age.
Yellow blooms attract butterflies to necklace pod throughout the year. These flowers are borne on long flower spikes emerging from new growth. They open in a cascade from base to tip. Once the flowers fade, the fruits offer a second point of interest. Necklace pod takes its name from its long, pod-like fruits. These are 3 to 6 inches long and remain on the plant for a season. The pods begin a pretty, light green color. This deepens into an attractive yellow before the pods dry out completely. The seeds do contain alkaloids, making them toxic if consumed.
Planting and Care
Plant necklace pod in a well-drained spot that receives full sun. If you are beginning a mass planting, space the plants 36 to 60 inches apart. It also makes an excellent specimen planting. With regular pruning necklace pod can be kept as a small tree.
Necklace pod tolerates salt spray well. You can plant it as close to the ocean as the inland side of the dunes along the beach. It is relatively drought tolerant and does not require fertilizing in most sites.
Necklace pod is not particularly vulnerable to any major pests or diseases. If overwatered, it can suffer from fungal infections.
Propagate necklace pod by seed or look for it in a native plant nursery.
For more information about necklace pod contact your county Extension office.