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Olneya tesota

In stock

1 gallon; 5 gallon

Plant Care

Native region:

Local Native

Water needs:



Mature size:

Growth rate:

Full Sun



Flower color:

Flower season:



Spring - Summer

Prune conservatively to shape, elevate canopy base (crown raise) and remove occasional water sprouts and suckers




Nectar pollinators:


Nighttime pollinators:


Rabbit resistant:


Ironwood, like all our native trees, can grow as a bush or a tree, reaching heights of up to 30 feet and an average trunk diameter of about 24 inches. In some exceptional sites or larger protected washes, they can grow even taller, reaching up to 45 feet. This plant is one of the oldest in the region, living up to 1200 years.

Ironwood is an evergreen tree with spines on its branches, a short trunk and a wide-spreading, rounded, dense crown that is often broader than it is high. It produces numerous purplish, pea-shaped flowers in late spring and early summer. Its bark is thin and scaly, and its foliage is evergreen except during the coldest winters. The tree derives its name from its heavy, hard heartwood.

Desert animals feed on the fruit produced by the Ironwood tree, and bighorn sheep browse on its leaves. The tree is native to foothill washes and low desert areas and requires excellent drainage. It is exceptionally drought-tolerant.

Growing Plants in the Desert — Important Information

The information presented here is, to the best of my knowledge, accurate and based on my research from reliable sources, observations I have made of plants growing in my, and other gardens I have visited, and observations of the plants in their native habitats. I would appreciate your feedback and experience to help me educate others! 


Cacti: In my experience, cacti are much happier in the filtered shade here in the low desert of the Coachella Valley. Colors are more vibrant and they bloom more profusely, especially the non-native varieties. If you pay attention to how our native barrel and beavertail opuntia grow in the wild, it is frequently tucked in the rocks under creosote or another shrub.


Light Requirements: I have found that in our desert (Sonoran/Colorado) “full sun” plants can take and appreciate the late afternoon filtered sun, especially in the hot summer months.

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