Desert Willow

Chilopsis linearis subsp. arcuata

Desert willow

Color: Light pink to lavender, dark rose.

Common name: Desert willow

Latin name: Chilopsis linearis subsp. arcuata


Height: 6-18 feet

Description: Willow-like shrub or tree. Flower: 2-lipped, generally soft-hairy, purplish; corolla 2–5 cm, sweetly fragrant, generally light pink to lavender with yellow ridges and purple lines on throat and lower lobes, edges jagged, wavy.

Leaf: Deciduous, generally alternate (often some opposite to whorled on same plant); blade 10–26 cm, ± linear, curved - resembles a true willow.

Range: Desert, adjacent Transverse Ranges, Peninsular Ranges

Habitat: Sandy washes where subsurface water is found.

Elevation: < 1500 m.

Flowering time: May–Sep

Notes: Photographed June 16, 2003 Maturango Museum grounds, Ridgecrest, Kern County, Calif. A dicot, is a shrub/tree that is native to California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to western North America. Distribution outside California: to Utah, New Mexico, n Mexico.

Indians had many uses for desert willow, the wood being the most important use. The branches are very pliable and not heavy, very strong and highly resistant to decay. For this reason they were used as construction materials in Indian houses. The branches were also used to make enormous basket-like structures that were used to store mesquite pods and other foods collected in large quantities.

1 species in the genus. Pollinators include bumblebees and hummingbirds.

Etymology: from the Greek: resembling lips, from flower shape.

Horticulture: Given excellent drainage (modification of compacted or other water-holding soils may be necessary) and full or nearly full sun (tolerates summer afternoon sun), grows especially well in zones 8, 9, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23 and also in zones 10 and 11.

Cornett, James W.; Indian Uses of Desert Plants, Palm Springs, California, Palm Springs Desert Museum

More Wildflowers

We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone, iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.

Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

Mojave Desert Wildflowers - This book is the standard by which all other wildflower books are measured. The author, Jon Mark Stewart, has combined super photography with concise information. This book has an entire color page for each wildflower covered, with a discussion of the wildflower. 210 pages with 200 color photos. More...

What's Blooming Now - Check the Wildflower Reports

More Wildflowers


Share this page on Facebook:

DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)

The Desert Environment
The North American Deserts
Desert Geological Terms


Enter Email:

Copyright © 1996- and Digital West Media, Inc. - -