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trees of the desert?

Posted by avalen (My Page) on
Sat, May 9, 09 at 20:07

out in the desert where the palo verde trees grow and are
all in bloom now with the yellow pollen, there is another
tree growing along side of them that have dusty lavender
color flowers that are real tiny flowers actually from a
distance makes the tree just look dusted in purple. I am
wondering what kind of tree these are, another type of palo
verde or a type of mesquite? They seem to be growing wild.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: trees of the desert?

  • Posted by bolt z8 Phx (My Page) on
    Sat, May 9, 09 at 23:30

That'd be an ironwood tree, nice color out in the middle of the desert!


RE: trees of the desert?

around here that could also be smoke tree. Small tree, seldom over 15 feet tall with gray / white bark.

RE: trees of the desert?

Ironwood trees are found only in the Sonoran Desert below 2,500 feet and are most common along dry ephemeral washes where they provide a fertile and sheltered habitat. In late April and into May they explode into masses of color as their sweet-pea like blossoms appear. Their ghost-like bark, gray-green leaflets, lavender-pink flowers and stately presence have captured my heart.

As a tree matures, it modifies the environment beneath it, creating a micro-habitat with less direct sunlight, reduced surface temperatures, increased organic matter, more available water, and protection from herbivores. The ironwood's leaf litter supplies nitrogen to the soil and its seeds provide a protein-rich resource for doves, quail, coyotes, and many small rodents. It is often called the 'nurse tree' of the desert and is referred to as a keystone species or those who "enrich their ecosystem in a unique and significant manner, and the effect is disproportionate to their numerical abundance." The ironwood is one of the largest and longest-lived Sonoran Desert plants, growing 45 feet tall and living as long as 1,500 years.

Ironwoods make great landscape trees. They will compete with trees like the blue palo verde, growing about 2/3 as fast. If you are considering creating an urban wildlife habitat, the ironwood is a perfect choice. Because they drop a relatively small amount of litter, it makes them a perfect choice for poolside landscapes.

Ironwood Trivia: Ancient Hohokam made digging sticks of durable ironwood to retrieve tuberous roots. The seeds of Olneya tesota have been used for food by native Americans for centuries. Fresh, uncooked seeds are said to have a taste similar to soybeans or peanuts. The Seri Indians of Sonora, Mexico, cooked the seeds in water, rinsing twice, and ate them whole, or ground and salted. Roasted seeds have been used as a substitute for coffee. The wood is so dense that it will not float, and so hard that it has been used for bearings. Dead trees can remain standing for a millennium. One cubic foot of ironwood can weigh up to 66 pounds. The state's largest known ironwood occurs in Child's Valley in western Pima County.

RE: trees of the desert?

Wow! I loved all that wonderful information about the ironwood. So are you saying that even though it grows to is still a good tree for the suburban landscape? I need a good tree for my small back yard and have not found one I like yet.

RE: trees of the desert?

Are there smaller varieties of the Ironwood? I'd love to have one but its too big!

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