Theodore Payne California Native Plant Database




Olneya tesota

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Species Name: Olneya tesota
Common Name: Desert Ironwood

Beautiful and tough desert tree! Good in desert landscape or as a patio tree. Needs good drainage.

Plant Family: Fabaceae
Plant Type: Tree
Height by Width: 25' H x 25' W
Growth Habit: Upright, multi-branching
Deciduous/Evergreen: Winter deciduous
Growth Rate: Moderate
Sun Exposure: Sun
Soil Preference: Gravelly or Rocky
Water Requirements: Dry to semi moist
Cold Hardy to: 15 degrees F
Flower Season: Spring-Summer
Flower Color: Yellow-Pink
Endangered?: Not listed
Distribution: Peninsular Ranges, Sonoran Desert
Natural Habitat: Often abundant in washes below 2000'

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History
  • Introduced into cultivation in California by Theodore Payne.
  • From California Native Plants, Theodore Payne's 1941 catalog: "Small tree 15 to 25 feet high with broad crown, spiny branches and pinnate leaves. the flowers are pea-shaped in loose racemes and of a delicate orchid shade. Produced in great quantities so that the tree is often a mass of bloom. Found in desert washes on the Colorado Desert. Gallon cans, 75c."
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