Marcus, Joseph A.
Chilopsis linearis (Cav.) Sweet
Desert willow, Flowering willow, Willow-leaved catalpa, Trumpet flower
Bignoniaceae (Trumpet-Creeper Family)
Desert-willow is a 15-40 ft., slender-twigged, small tree
or large shrub,
often with leaning, twisting trunk and open, spreading crown. Leaves are deciduous,
willow-like, light green, both opposite
4–12 inches long and 1/3 inch wide. The blossom is funnel-shaped, 1–1 1/2 inches long, spreading at the opening into 5 ruffled, petal-like lobes. The flower is dark pink or purple, often with white or yellow and purple streaks within the throat. The catalpa-like flowers are borne in terminal racemes. By early autumn, the violet-scented flowers, which appear after summer rains, are replaced by slender seedpods, 6–10 inches long, which remain dangling from the branches and serve to identify the tree
after the flowers are gone.
Named for its resemblance to willows, this popular ornamental tree
is actually related to catalpa trees
, Yellowbells (Tecoma stans
), and Trumpet vine
). Its exotic-looking blooms, rapid growth, drought tolerance, and ease of maintenance have made it a sought-after plant within its range, which in nature is from south-central Texas south to Nuevo Leon and Zacatecas in Mexico and west all the way to southern California and Baja California. Adapted to desert washes, it does best with just enough water to keep it blooming and healthily green through the warm months. Many cultivars have been selected, with varying flower colors, leaf sizes, and amounts of seed pods.
Image Gallery: 30 photo(s) available
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink , Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: Mostly blooms heaviest May to June but will continue to bloom sporadically throughout the warm season after rains. Flower color ranges from solid white or muted pink to darker rose and purple, as well as two-toned combinations of those colors. Throat often yellow-tinged. Many cultivars available with varying flower colors.
AZ , CA , NM , TX Native Distribution:
South-central Texas south to Nuevo Leon and Zacatecas, west to southern California and Baja California Native Habitat:
Ditches, ravines, depressions, streams, river banks, arroyos, swales, and washes in desert areas USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained limestone soils preferred, but also does well in sands, loams, clays, caliches, granitic, and rocky soils. Minimal organic content the norm.
Conditions Comments: Allow to dry out between waterings, as this will encourage more extensive waves of blooms. Avoid excessive water and fertilizer, as that can lead to overly rapid growth, fewer blooms, and a weaker plant. Prolonged saturation can result in rot. Wont grow as fast or get as large in clay soil but wont suffer there either. Can be drought-deciduous in some regions. Can survive temperatures as low as 10 degrees F.
A showy, fast-growing, drought-tolerant ornamental tree
with very decorative blooms Use Wildlife:
Nectar-hummingbirds, Nectar-insects, Seeds-granivorous birds Use Medicinal:
Floral decoctions taken for coughs and bronchial problems in Mexico Use Other:
Erosion control. Bows and basketry made from its wood by indigenous people. A good honey plant. Conspicuous Flowers:
Birds , Hummingbirds , Butterflies Larval Host:
White-winged moth Nectar Source: