Scientific: Olneya tesota
Common: desert ironwood
Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Origin: Lower Sonoran Desert, highest frequency of occurrence in southeastern California and southwestern Arizona.

Pronounciation: Ol-NEY-ya te-SO-ta

Hardiness zones:
Sunset 12-13
USDA 9-11 (arid zones only)

Landscape Use: Native desert tree for light shade and accent in most any desert landscape design type, even wayside, roadside or desert picnic desert landscape settings.

Form & Character: Upright and irregular, briefly deciduous, rugged and twisting, dry looking with a picturesque trunk character.

Growth Habit: Woody semi-evergreen perennial tree, medium growth rate to 30 feet with equal spread, final height depends largely on whether the trees are irrigated or not. Irrigated trees wikll produce copious numbers of trunk suckers (water sprouts) under landscape conditions.

Foliage/texture: Small, gray-green pinnately-compound leaves, 4 to 12 pairs of leaflets, paired recurvate stipular spines below leaves at nodes are nasty....and very persistent remaining on the stems and branches long after the leaves have abscissed; medium fine texture.

Flowers & fruits: Flowers produced in 2 inches long raceme, pale purple rose to lavender; fruits are pods to 2 to 3 inches long with black seeds that are shed in August.

Seasonal color: Flowers appear late April through May.

Temperature: Tolerant

Light: Full sun

Soil: tolerant

Watering: None to occasional summer irrigations to encourage vigor.

Pruning: Prune conservatively to shape, elevate canopy base and remove occasional suckers and water sprouts.

Propagation: Seed

Disease and pests: None

Additional comments: Desert ironwood trees look much better when occasionally deeply watered in summer, although additional water will encourage water sprouts and suckers. Large specimens are often salvaged from the desert, relocated, and easily transplanted. This is best done during the summer. Desert ironwood is an excellent Arizona native desert landscape tree that produces exceptionally dense heartwood.