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Ironwood, Desert Ironwood

Olneya tesota

Details & Attributes

Plant Type(s) Tree, perennial
Native to Arizona Yes!
Water Needs Low
Sun Full sun
Pollinators Bees (particularly Centris pallida)
Has Spines Yes
In relative feet, width by height
20-50 × 20-50
Flowering Season April-May
Flower Color White, purple with yellow tinges
Minimum Temperature Range 20 °F
Leaf Description Pinnate (leaflets arranged on either side of the stem), greyish green
Fruit Legume (bean)
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Range Map View SEINet Range Map
Description Another iconic Sonoran Desert tree, ironwoods make stately and long lived specimens. Because they are one of the few low desert evergreens, these trees can cast dense shade year round. Showers of purple and white blooms appear in spring creating a contrast from the grey spiny branches. An important "nurse tree" for saguaro cactus, consider using this species as the centerpiece, or along the edges of a drought tolerant landscape. The wood is quite dense and heavy so pruning should be done while branches are still young, however less is more when it comes to pruning ironwoods. Given space to grow ironwoods can be the tallest and longest lived trees in the Sonoran Desert.