Desert Willow

Chilopsis linearis spp

For ease of care; drought and sun tolerance; and showy, fragrant tropical flowers it’s hard to beat the desert willow. Small deciduous tree or shrub, thornless, 15′-40′ tall. Not a true Willow; related to Yellowbells (Tecoma stans) and Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans). Flowers are slightly fragrant.

Subspecies linearis var. linearis and arcuata are native to the southwest and produce seed pods. Many cultivars have limited or no seed pods.

Flowers: J F M A M J J A S O N D
Status: Native and hybrids
Origin: Occurs from northern Chicuahua in Mexico and west Texas and Oklahoma (has escaped cultivation) to southern Nevada and southwest Utah, Arizona, southern California, and northern Baja California in arid land washes from the low desert to grasslands. Subspecies linearis var. linearis occurs primarily east of the Rio Grande River in eastern New Mexico and western Texas, while subspecies arcuata occurs primarily west of the Rio Grande River into California.
Family: Bignoniaceae
Size: 15′ – 35′
Sun: Full, tolerate reflected heat
Watering: Drought tolerant but benefits from supplemental watering
Growth Rate: Moderate to Fast
Soil: Tolerant of a variety of soil types
Temperature: Tolerant, hardy to 10 degrees F
Pruning: Selective to improve appearance
Disease and Pests: Aphids during spring and leaf scorch (Xylella fastidosa) that also affects grapes.
Uses: Nectar and Host plant, accent tree.
Host for the Rustic sphinx moth and Geometrid moths, attracts Hummingbirds and provides bird nesting habitat.
Notes: Roots are not invasive, Prune in early spring when dormant

Some available cultivars are:

  • Art’s Seedless‘ Created by Art Combe, has large pink-rose flowers with narrow bright green leaves. Seedless.
  • AZT Desert Amethyst‘ has amethyst colored flowers with deep green leaves.
  • Bubba‘ is a fast growing cultivar that has dark burgundy flowers and a compact growth habit. Limited seedpods.
  • ‘Dora Desert Rose AZT’ has deep green leaves and produces pink flowers with a magenta blush from spring to fall.
  • ‘Lois Adams’ has rich pink-maroon flowers. Limited seedpods.
  • ‘Lopur Desert Diva’ has deep, emerald green leaves with velvety white buds that open into deep, dark purple burgundy flowers.
  • Lucretia Hamilton‘ is a small, slow growing cultivar with light green leaves and intense burgundy flowers. Persistent long narrow seed pods.
  • ‘Regal’ has deep pink-purple flowers
  • ‘Tejas’ is an older cultivar selection made by the late Dr. Jimmy Tipton.
  • Warren Jones‘ is a fast growing cultivar that holds onto its leaves longer than most, and has light pink flowers. Persistent long narrow seed pods.
  • ‘White Storm’ has white flowers on a small form.


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