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Tecoma stans (Yellow bells)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Tecoma stans

Tecoma stans (L.) Juss. ex Kunth

Yellow bells, Yellowbells, Esperanza, Yellow trumpetbush, Yellow trumpetflower, Trumpetbush, Trumpetflower, Yellow elder

Bignoniaceae (Trumpet-Creeper Family)

Synonym(s): Bignonia stans, Stenolobium stans, Tecoma stans var. angustatum

USDA Symbol: test

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), HI (I), PR (N), VI (N)

Esperanza or Yellow bells is an irregularly shaped, deciduous shrub, normally 3-6 ft. tall in the US but more southerly varieties can reach 9 ft. It has several stems and slender, erect branches. Clusters of large, trumpet-shaped, yellow flowers are very showy against the lance-shaped, olive-green leaves. Long, thin pods are conspicuous in autumn. It has an enormous natural range, extending from south Texas west to Arizona and south through Mexico and Central America to South America as far as northern Argentina, as well as in southern Florida south through much of the Caribbean. Plants native to the southwestern US and adjacent Mexico are Tecoma stans var. angustata, which is shorter, more drought-tolerant, and more cold-tolerant than some of the tropical varieties sold in nurseries.

Anyone who has seen this plant in bloom can understand why one of its names is Yellow bells, as it produces great, attention-grabbing, yellow blossoms. In recent years, it has become a popular landscaping plant, valued as much for its drought-tolerance as for its spectacular appearance.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Leaf Shape: Elliptic , Lanceolate , Linear
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous
Leaf Margin: Serrate
Leaf Apex: Acuminate
Leaf Texture: Smooth
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Panicle , Raceme
Size Notes: Normally 3-6 ft high in North America but can be as much as 9 ft.
Leaf: Green to olive green
Flower: Flowers 3-5 inches
Fruit: Green to greyish brown 4-8 inches long.
Size Class: 3-6 ft. , 6-12 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov

Distribution

USA: AZ , FL , NM , TX
Native Distribution: South-central Texas west to Arizona, south through Mexico and Central America to South America as far as northern Argentina. Southern Florida south through the Caribbean.
Native Habitat: High elevations, hillsides, slopes, canyons

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well drained, rocky, limestone, sand, and loam soils
Conditions Comments: North American native varieties of this species can survive winters within their natural range but may die to the ground during especially harsh winters even there. Varieties sold in nurseries may be from tropical stock and not do so well in US cold. Yellow bells is drought tolerant and Southwestern varieties are adapted to monsoon rains with dry spells between. They may flower better if such conditions are emulated in planned landscapes, so allow ground to dry out between waterings. It is tolerant of confinement if containers are at least 12 inches in diameter and thus makes a good potted specimen.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: A showy, attractive, long-blooming accent shrub for rock gardens, perennial gardens, and other home landscapes within its range
Use Wildlife: Nectar-insects, bees, hummingbirds. Seeds-Small mammals. Leaves-browsed by mammals.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Larval Host: Dogface butterfly
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: Moderate

Propagation

Propagation Material: Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Seed Collection: Collect late summer to fall after pods are no longer green.
Seed Treatment: Air dry at room temperature to store over winter. Sow soon after harvest in loose, moist-but-not-soggy, fine soil for quick germination.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Cut back to the ground if dies back in winter. Prune and pinch spent flowers and pods to encourage blooming and bushiness.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Tecoma stans is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Plebeian sphinx
(Paratrea plebeja)

Food Source
Learn more at BAMONA

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: UPL UPL UPL UPL FACU UPL
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Hill Country Natives - Leander, TX
Far South Wholesale Nursery - Austin, TX

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Sibley Nature Center - Midland, TX
Native Plant Society of Texas - Fredericksburg, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
National Butterfly Center - Mission, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0684 Collected Nov 22, 1993 in Bexar County by Mike Fox

Bibliography

Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 481 - How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest: Revised and Updated Edition (2001) Nokes, J.
Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 297 - Trees of Central Texas (1984) Vines, Robert A.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Tecoma stans in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Tecoma stans in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Tecoma stans

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2010-11-08
Research By: LAL, LAS, GDG

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