Desert Willow



Botanical Name:  Chilopsis linearis

Common Name:  Desert Willow, Flowering Willow, Willowleaf Catalpa, Desert Catalpa, Flor de Mimbre, Mimbre, Bow Willow, Orchid of the Desert

Description:  Beautiful Texas native tree/shrub that blooms sweetly fragrant, trumpet-shaped lavender/pink with a yellow throat flowers late spring into fall especially after it rains. It attracts a variety of native bees, hummingbirds,  butterflies, and other pollinators. Birds eat the seeds. A good honey plant, and it provides nesting materials/structure for Native Bees, meaning that native bees nest beneath, within, or harvest parts from it to make their nests. Those pollinators will create seed pods that dry out and crack open into white cotton-like tufts. Host plant for the White-Winged Moth.  Grows 15-20′ tall and wide. Moderate grower at 13-24″ per year. Can be left to grow with multiple trunks or pruned to a single trunk either in tree form or as a shrub. Has long thin, deciduous, lancelet-shaped leaves that resemble leaves of the true willow trees, which is where the “willow” part of its name comes from. Very delicate and airy looking tree. Likes sun or part sun. By early autumn, the violet-scented flowers are replaced by slender seedpods, 6-10 inches long, which remain dangling from the branches. Does well in sands, loams, clays, caliches, granitic, and rocky soils. Minimal organic content the norm. Floral decoctions taken for coughs and bronchial problems in Mexico. Good for erosion control. Moderate deer resistance. Sun to part sun.

Desert Willow is native to west Texas, so it likes it hot and dry. It grows fine in our area, but it must have well draining soil and must not be overwatered. Very drought tolerant after becoming established. Don’t plant it in a wet area. Consider making a raised area for it if your soil stays too moist. It can be also be grown in large containers.

Attracts all kinds of pollinators, uses very little water, and flowers all summer … what’s not to love?? Its ability to withstand arid conditions, beautiful flowers, and long flowering period make it one of Texas’s best small native trees.

This plant in 15-gallon containers is 3-5′ tall and wide.

Interesting Tidbit:  Is actually related to Catalpa trees, Yellowbells (Tecoma stans), and Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans). Bows and basketry made from its wood by indigenous people.

Hardiness Zones 7 – 9



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