Chilopsis linearis var. linearis

Common Name: desert willow 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Bignoniaceae
Native Range: Southwestern United States to Mexico
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to September
Bloom Description: Pink to lavender (sometimes white)
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10 where it is best grown in dry well-drained soils in full sun. Excellent drought tolerance.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Chilopsis linearis, commonly known as desert willow, is a large shrub or small multi-trunked tree with a loose open crown. It typically grows to 15-25’ tall with a spread to 10-15’ wide. It is native to gravelly and rocky soils in the Southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico where it is usually found growing in desert grasslands, sandy washes or springs. This is a monotypic genus having only one species with two varieties thereunder, namely, var. linearis and var. arcuata.

Showy, fragrant flowers bloom from April to September with fruits maturing in fall and often remaining on the tree during winter. It is treasured for its delicate, deciduous, willow-like leaves and trumpet-shaped, catalpa-like flowers (each to 1 1/2” long) which bloom in 2-4” terminal panicles from May to September. Flowers are lavender to pink but occasionally white. Light green leaves (to 6-12” long spreading to only 1/2” wide) are alternate, simple and linear to narrow lanceolate. Flowers are followed by distinctive, slender, 1/4” wide seed pods (to 6-12” long), each pod containing many winged seeds.

Var. linearis is native to far southern Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, western Texas and northern Mexico. Its branchlets are non-viscous and usually lanate.

Genus name comes from the Greek words cheilos meaning lip and opsis meaning resembling in reference to the distinct lip found on its calyx.

Specific epithet means narrow with nearly parallel sides in reference to its willow-like leaves.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Uses

Excellent as specimen or in small groups in residential landscapes. Particularly effective near decks or patios. Desert gardens. Tall hedge. Screen. Roadsides and median strips.