desert ironwood Fabaceae Olneya
tesota A. Gray symbol: OLTE
Leaf: Alternate, evergreen, pinnately compound, 6 to 9 pairs of obovate leaflets, entire leaf 2 to 3 inches long, gray-green and finely hairy.
Flower: Pea-shaped, 1/2 inch long pink to light purple flowers, 5 petals, appears in late spring in small clusters.
Fruit: Two to 3 inch long brown legume, swollen at seeds, finely hairy, matures in late summer.
Twig: Slender, green (later gray-brown), with a pair of slender sharp spines at base of leaves.
Bark: Initially smooth and light gray-brown, later becoming darker, browner and shreddy, often there are distinct transitions between smooth and rough areas.
Form: A small tree (up to 30 feet) with a short trunk (often several trunks) and wide spreading crown.
Looks like: honey mesquite - screwbean mesquite - catclaw acacia - desert smoke tree
Additional Range Information: Olneya tesota is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting desert ironwood.
External Links: USDA Plants Database
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson