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Ironwood
Scientific Name: Olneya tesota A. Gray
Synonym:
Family: Fabaceae
Ironwood (Olneya  tesota) Recommended Temperature Zone:
sunset: 12-13
USDA: 8b-10

Frost Tolerance: Deciduous if the temperature drops below 28F (-2C), mature trees killed at 15F (-9C)

Heat Tolerance: Excellent

Sun Exposure: Full sun, tolerates reflected heat

Origin: Sonoran desert in Arizona (USA) and Mexico (Sonora, Baja California, Baja California Sur)

Growth Habits: Evergreen tree or large shrub, growing slowly up to 15 to 30 feet tall (4.5-9 m), 15 to 25 feet wide (4.5-7.5 m); older trees have trunks that can reach 2 feet in diameter (60 cm); twigs with paired thorns, 0.12 to 0.4 inch long (3-10 mm), at each node; pinnately compound leaves, up to 2.4 inches long (6 cm) with 6 to 20 oval gray-green, thick, leaflets, 0.28 to 0.8 inch long (7-20 mm)

Watering Needs: Little to no water once established, grows faster and looks better with some occasional deep waterings

Propagation: Seeds, that need scarification (fresh seeds will grow without scarification)


Ironwood (Olneya  tesota)

Ironwood (Olneya tesota), U.S.D.A. Forest Service Collection, Courtesy of the Hunt Institute

Cultural Practices:
Some maintenance is needed to train the trunk in a tree shape. There is also some litter generated with the flowers and pods. It is still an excellent tree for the Phoenix area.

Blooming Habits:
Short lasting but showy lavender flowers, 0.24 to 0.6 inch wide (6-15 mm), covering the tree in masses of blossom, in the spring.

Fruiting Habits:
Seeds pods with 1 to 4 edible seeds


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Desert-Tropicals is dedicated to provide gardening advice, gardening ideas, and information about flower of all kind for landscape and collections. We try to check carefully the identification of the plants on the illustrations as well as the other information from the page, but occasionally errors do occur. if you notice anything that needs to be changed please contact us. Thanks.

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