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Products > Chilopsis linearis
Chilopsis linearis - Desert Willow
Image of Chilopsis linearis
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Bignoniaceae (Bignonias)
Origin: California (U.S.A.)
Flower Color: Lavender Pink
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Fragrant Flowers: Yes
Height: 12-20 feet
Width: 10-15 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 0-10░ F
Chilopsis linearis (Desert Willow) A small deciduous moderately fast growing tree that is native to desert areas of the southwestern United States and Mexico and generally seen growing as a low branched large shrub or small tree not more than 15 feet, but can reach more than twice this height with age in the right conditions. It often has a leaning and twisting dark trunk with an open spreading crown of slender stems holding the long willow-like narrow light green linear curved leaves that are 4-12 inches long and about a quarter inch wide. In late spring through summer appear in terminal racemes the lightly fragrant and showy ruffled funnel-shaped inch and a half long flowers with flared lobes that are range in color from pale pink to fairly dark purple and are streaked with yellow down the throats. These flowers are replaced by long dangling seed pods by fall. Plant in full sun in a well drained soil and water infrequently once established, but it flowers longer and looks best with more regular occasional irrigation, particularly in warmer locations. This is a drought tolerant and cold hardy plant that can tolerate temperatures down to at least 0░ F without damage. Though long deciduous, its form when bare is still attractive and it can be a stunning plant in flower in spring and summer and this also attracts hummingbirds. We have long considered this plant more suitable to a hotter inland garden but our plants grown from seed came off or a particularly nice specimen that was growing in a more coastal bay area location. Chilopsis linearis is native to southwestern United States from Texas to California and northern Mexico in northern Baja California and as far south as south as Zacatecas in central Mexico. In California it can be found growing in washes and along riverbanks at elevations below 5,000 feet in the Colorado and Mojave Deserts and is often the dominant species in lower desert washes. The name for the genus comes from the Greek words 'cheilos' meaning "a lip" and the suffix 'opsis' meaning "resemblance" in reference to the distinct lip-like shape of the calyx. The Scottish botanist David Don is the originator of the genus name and had described the this monotypic species as Chilopsis saligna in 1823, but it had been previously described by the Spanish botanist Antonio JosÚ Cavanilles as Bignonia linearis in 1796 and so this specific name, a reference to its narrow liner leaves, took precedence when Robert Sweet reclassified it in Hortus Britannicus in 1827. Our plants were grown from seed from a beautiful lavender pink flowering specimen planted at Summerwinds Nursery in Cupertino that reliably bloomed profusely in this cooler bay area location, but seemingly produces few seed pods. our hope is that the resulting seedlings will have both this plants amazing colored flowers and its ability to thrive in more coastal environments. 

This information about Chilopsis linearis displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.