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The flowers are fragrant, orchid-like and hang in clusters of five or more and range from white to pink to purple. Blooming from April to late summer the flowers are frequently visited by hummingbirds and butterflies. Desert willow is deciduous and the 8 inch seed pods will hang on the tree through the winter sometimes giving it a "shaggy appearance.

APRIL : ART’S SEEDLESS™ desert willow : desert willow

Inspection of a pod will reveal slender seeds with "hairs" on it. Hummingbirds use this to build nests with.

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Desert willow prefers full sun but can take partial shade. Tolerant of drought, heat, wind, and cold, once it becomes established it can survive on rainfall alone. A deep watering once a month during the hot season will keep it more attractive looking. Discontinue irrigation in early fall as new growth can be damaged by frost. Desert willows Chilopsis linearis are trees that grow up to about 30 feet high. The primary habitat is low desert to grasslands.

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Desert willows are not really willows, they are in the begonia family. However, their long slender leaves and drooping branches give them an appearance similar to willows. With sufficient rainfall, these trees bloom from mid-spring through mid-summer. Large bees are the main pollinators, but the flowers also attract other insects and hummingbirds.

Desert Willow

Desert willows do, however, produce seed pods 4 to 12 inches long which mature in Autumn. Then the brown pods split in two and release many flat seeds that have dual hair wings. The pods themselves often stay on the tree until the next spring. Desert willow is a large, sprawling deciduous shrub or small tree capable of growing 25 feet tall with a spread of that or more. It is usually a low-branched, multiple-trunked plant, which leafs out late in the season and produces long, shining green, willow-like leaves to six inches long.

Chilopsis linearis - Desert Willow, Desert Catalpa

The sweetly scented flowers are variable in color but mostly center around shades of pink, lavender or purple, often with white or yellow throats. The color range does include forms with pure white flowers to near red. If two plants are present for pollination, slender 6 inch-long bean pods will be produced and hang on the plant during the winter. Desert willow is appropriately named because it grows in the arroyos the Spanish word for creek in the southwestern states from west Texas to southern California and adjacent areas in Mexico.

Desert-Willow Tree on the Tree Guide at

This part of our country typically receives between 10 to 15 inches of rainfall a year, with much of it coming during the summer months as moisture off of the Pacific is pushed inland and sets up a monsoonal rainfall pattern. These summer rains are often spotty in the desert, but where they hit the water comes hard and fast.

Much of this water runs off into the arroyos where the desert willow lives, occupying a similar environmental niche as the true willows Salix along streams in wetter environs.

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