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Olneya tesota

Olneya tesota A. Gray

 

Desert Ironwood, Ironwood

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFabalesLegumes (pea and bean families)
FamilyFabaceaeLegume family (peas and beans)
GenusOlneyaAfter Stephen Thayer Olney (1812-1878), a Rhode Island botanist and woolen manufacturer
SpeciestesotaCorruption of the Spanish tieso meaning “stiff or firm”. Tesota is a southwest Native American name for this tree

About plant names...

Ironwood gets its name from its hard, extremely dense heart­wood. Indigenous peoples fashioned it into tools, wea­pons, and building materials. It remains popular for knife handles. The heartwood contains chemicals that resist rot. They live from 50 to 150 years; some trees persist for as long as 800 years. Ironwood is common in washes. Its range corresponds roughly to that of the Sonoran desert, at elevations below 3609' (1.1 km).

Plants: A slow-growing shrub or tree up to 33' (10 m) high, with a trunk up to 24" (60 cm) around. Imposing dark red thorns are about 1" (2.5 cm) long. Bark is dark gray, light gray, or red brown

Leaves: Gray- or bluish-green, even pinnate, alternate or in clusters. There are 8-21 leaflets in each group. Leaflets are roughly oval in shape (technically obovate or elliptic). Their grayish tinge is due to the presence of fine hairs.

Flowers: Flowers are ⅜-½" (1-1.4 cm) around, shaped like those of the many other members of the pea family. Each flower has a keel or lower lip that is yellow-white to pink or purple, and white and purple-pink wings (upper petals). Flowers appear from April to May.

Fruits: Brown, light red, or mostly green pods are 1½-3" (3.8-7.6 cm) long, and oblong or elliptic, with 1-3 seeds.

Edibility: Seeds and seedpods were roasted by native peo­ples, and are said to taste like peanuts. Seeds were also parched in the sun, ground lightly, shaped into loaves, and baked.

Online References:

Olneya tesota at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Center for Sonoran Desert Studies

Olneya tesota at the Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute's SelecTree site

Olneya tesota on www.ethnoherbalist.com

Olneya tesota at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Olneya tesota from the Jepson Manual

Olneya tesota (Desert Ironwood, Ironwood)

5/2/2018 · Bajada Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA
≈ 8 × 12" (20 × 31 cm)

Olneya tesota (Desert Ironwood, Ironwood)

5/1/2018 · Parker, AZ
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm)

Olneya tesota (Desert Ironwood, Ironwood)

5/1/2018 · Parker, AZ

Olneya tesota (Desert Ironwood, Ironwood)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA

Olneya tesota description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Olneya tesota (Desert Ironwood, Ironwood)

5/1/2018 · Parker, AZ
≈ 7 × 4½" (16 × 12 cm)

Olneya tesota (Desert Ironwood, Ironwood)

5/1/2018 · Parker, AZ
≈ 3½ × 4" (9.8 × 10 cm)

Olneya tesota (Desert Ironwood, Ironwood)

5/1/2018 · Parker, AZ

Olneya tesota (Desert Ironwood, Ironwood)

5/1/2018 · Parker, AZ
≈ 4½ × 7" (12 × 18 cm)

Olneya tesota (Desert Ironwood, Ironwood)

5/1/2018 · Parker, AZ
≈ 3½ × 4" (8.6 × 10 cm)

Olneya tesota (Desert Ironwood, Ironwood)

5/1/2018 · Parker, AZ
≈ 7 × 4½" (18 × 12 cm)

Olneya tesota (Desert Ironwood, Ironwood)

5/1/2018 · Parker, AZ
≈ 5 × 8" (13 × 20 cm)

Range: Zones 9-10:

About this map...