Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Ironwood
Olneya tesota

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Olneya (OL-nee-yuh) (Info)
Species: tesota (TES-oh-tuh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

4 members have or want this plant for trade.


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Scarify seed before sowing

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 23 photos.
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2 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive uglysteve On Nov 9, 2009, uglysteve from Apache Junction, AZ wrote:

They grow wild in my area up to about 2500 feet. Easy to identify in spring, covered in light purple flowers. Sharp curved thorns. Fast growing with water, grows in wash. Will survive on only rain once established. I have a 30 ft. tree feeding from my septic drain area, it is about 12 years old. Needs a lot of pruning if you want to walk under it. Very crowded branches. Can take a lot of heat, does not like much frost. Top will be killed by hard frost, but can resprout from roots. Can live for a long, long time. Dense wood.

Positive QCHammy On Feb 18, 2008, QCHammy from San Tan Valley, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have this one growing in my front yard. Is loaded with hook shaped thorns on young stems. Will be less thorny as it matures. Use caution while trimming this tree as the thorns will dig deep into your flesh and then break off. Whatever you do don't hang Christmas lights on it. Trust me you'll only do it once. =)

Neutral gooley On Jan 17, 2008, gooley from Hawthorne, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I've gotten these to grow from seed, and I've transplanted them into pots... where they eventually died due to my neglect. Looks pretty much like a mesquite when a young seedling. I plan to try again and plant them out early, on some of the dryer parts of my land. I have no idea how they will fare in this humid, occasionally frosty climate (near Gainesville, Florida). They seem attractive trees, expecially in bloom, judging from photos.

Neutral Xenomorf On Nov 21, 2006, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

I've seen this growing in the wild in the South Mountian Preserve in Phoenix and on the 'El Camino Del Diablo Trail' (Devils' Highway) that runs between Ajo and Wellton, Arizona in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Ajo, Arizona
Apache Junction, Arizona
Green Valley, Arizona
Maricopa, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Queen Creek, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Wellton, Arizona
Wickenburg, Arizona
Roswell, New Mexico

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