This Arizona native is known around the world for its dense and heavy wood that is highly valued as quality firewood and as an exceptional woodworking material. Here in the landscapes of the desert southwest, ironwood serves as an excellent evergreen screen against unsightly views and provides cooling shade as it grows. Though it does grow slowly, patient gardeners are eventually rewarded with a large shrub or small tree with strong branches and a beautiful grey trunk that only gets more interesting with age.
The bicolor, pea-like flowers that appear in late spring and fall are edible, as are the fuzzy seed pods that develop a few weeks later, whether eaten while still fresh or allowed to dry. Ironwood is typically evergreen in Tucson, but long bouts of drought or cold can cause it to shed leaves and smaller branches to conserve energy. This tree will tolerate any amount of sun and reflected heat, but younger trees may need some protection from cold winter temperatures until they’re well-established in the landscape.
Height: 15 – 30 feet
Width: 15 – 20 feet
Bloom color: Pink to Lavender Purple
Flowering season: Late Spring, Early Summer
USDA minimum zone: 9
Cold hardiness: 20° F