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Olneya tesota     
Desert ironwood   
Fabaceae Family     

Compiled by the Master Gardeners
of the University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension.


Form: single or multistemmed tree, or large shrub
Seasonality: evergreen
Size: 15-30ft, spread 15-25ft; slow growth rate
Leaves: pinnately compound, oval leaflets; gray-green and thick
Flowers: 1/2in wide lavender flowers; short bloom period in early spring
Fruit: pod containing dark seeds, 2in long, 1/2 to 1/4in across
Stems/Trunks: thorns on twigs; gray trunk, more fissured with age
Range/Origin: throughout the Sonoran desert in elevations to 4000ft
Hardiness: to 20°, usually okay down to high teens

Desert ironwood tree
Olneya tesota



large wild specimens can be salvaged, but (like Cercidium sp.) for best success, transplanting should be done in the peak heat of the year.

wood is dense, valued for carving and firewood

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This page was first created July 20, 2001 and last modified January 13, 2006.

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