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Tree of the Month: Desert Willow

Tree of the Month: #DesertWillow

Learn more about the Tree of the Month! #DesertWillow 

Scientific: Chilopsis linearis

Common: Desert Willow, Flowering Willow, Willow-leaved Catalpa, Willowleaf Catalpa, Bow Willow, Flor De Mimbre, Mimbre

Family: Bignoniaceae

Origin:  Northern Chihuahua in Mexico, west Texas and Oklahoma to southern Nevada and southwest Utah, Arizona, southern California, and northern Baja California in arid land washes from the low desert to grassland

Form & Character: Desert willow has a long deciduous habit, often up to 6 to months (November to April). It is an open and airy small tree that is mostly multiple trunk, arid, colorful during the summer, but “sticks and seeds” during the winter.

Seasonality: Semi-evergreen perennial tree

Size: Grows to heights of 15 to 40 feet

Leaves: Pale to bright green foliage, leaves alternate, linear to lanceolate, 2 to 5 inches long, mostly glabrous, sometimes falcate, drops leaves in early fall, bark shaggy, no fall color; medium fine texture.

Flowers/Fruit: Typically trumpet shaped flowers with white corolla and yellow fused anthers, mottled inside, arranged in terminal clusters, petal colors ranging from white to pink to deep lavender, light fragrance, pollinated by carpenter bees; fruits are long, linear, ugly and messy in summer, several 1/3 to 1/2 inch long, light brown, oval seeds are encased within a two-celled, very indehiscent capsule. Seeds have a fringe of soft white hairs at each end which aid in wind dispersal.

Stems/Trunks: The bark of the tree is described as ‘Shaggy’ or ‘Brittle’

Comments: Attracts birds, and looks unsightly during winter. Hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers during the summer. There are many named cultivars that exist locally that are have unique flower and form characteristics

For more info view the full plant specifications from ASU’s Dr. Chris Martin: Desert Willow


Talking Trees Tree of the Month | #DesertWillow

PODCAST’s Justin Rohner gives you the lowdown on the Tree Of The Month the Desert Willow. Plus how plants deal with excessive heat to survive. Learn about plant assassins, the best way to anchor trees for monsoon storms, the benefits of dust storms, and more!

Podcast Archive With Expanded Content and Resources


Gary Peterson and Certified Arborist Mathew Noriega discuss the benefits of The Tree Of Month: The Desert Willow. We also cover how to keep girdling roots from killing your tree in addition to the importance of keeping your trees trimmed properly from monsoon winds and proper shade for the trunk. They also share tree tips for stressed out trees, holding moisture at the base and staking techniques.


John Eisenhower, Certified Arborist, details the Tree Of The Month, The Desert Willow. The effects of over watering. Defines Xerophyte. Why mistletoe is bad for trees. And the worst pruning mistake called ‘lions tailing’.

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