Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Eysenhardtia texana

Texas kidneywood, Kidneywood, Bee brush, Vara dulce, Palo dulce

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood)
Lytle, Melody
Texas kidneywood is an unarmed, much-branched shrub, 3-10 ft. tall, with an open, airy structure. A many-branched shrub with an open crown and gland-dotted, aromatic, resinous leaves and flowers. Its 3-4 in. spikes of white flowers are fragrant, as are the deciduous, finely divided leaves. Leaves up to 3 1/2 inches long, consisting of a central axis and as many as 40 small leaflets, each about 1/4 inch long, pungent when crushed. Flowers white, small, with a delicate fragrance, arranged in spikes up to 4 1/2 inches long at the ends of branchlets, appearing intermittently from May to October. Fruit a pod about 3/8 inch long, often with a threadlike tip. Seed pods are somewhat persistent.

This tree and its relative, the more westerly E. orthocarpa, were once used in remedies for kidney and bladder ailments, hence the name.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Size Notes: 3-12
Size Class: 6-12 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


Native Distribution: Central and south TX, n. to Bell, San Saba, Crockett & Brewster Cos. & s. to central Mex.
Native Habitat: Frequent in brushy vegetation in Rio Grande Plains, Central and West Texas. Well-drained sand, loam, clay, caliche, limestone. Dry, brushy hills & canyons

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Dry, rocky, calcareous soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Limestone-based, Caliche type
Conditions Comments: Kidneywood foliage has a pungent, citrusy smell. Bees flock to the ambrosial flowers, which bloom at intervals through the warm months. The Dogface butterfly also eats kidneywood as larval food. Can create a small tree with proper pruning. May temporarily lose leaves during a dry spell. Drought-tolerant.


Use Ornamental: Aromatic, Accent tree or shrub, Blooms ornamental, Fast growing, Showy
Use Wildlife: Flowers attract bees and butterflies
Use Food: It is very palatable and is readily grazed by white-tailed deer and goats.
Use Other: The wood has been used for dyes and is fluorescent in water.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Dogface butterfly
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: Minimal

Last Update: 2016-10-13