DESERT WILLOW, DESERT CATALPA

FAMILY: Bignoniaceae | GENUS: CHILOPSIS linearis

TYPE
  • Shrubs
  • Trees
  • Deciduous
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
WATER
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Moderate Water
PLANTING ZONES
  • MS (Middle South) / Zone 7
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8
  • CS (Coastal South) / Zone 9

Plant Details

Native to desert washes and streambeds below 5,000 ft. from California to Texas, south into Mexico. Grows 1530 ft. tall, 10 20 ft. wide; grows fast at first (as much as 3 ft. in a season), then slows. With age, develops shaggy bark and twisting trunks. Narrow, willow-type leaves grow to 25 in. long. From spring to fall, produces fragrant, trumpet-shaped blossoms with crimped lobes, resembling those of catalpa or small cattleya orchids; flowers attract hummingbirds. Flower color varies among seedlings; blossoms may be reddish purple, lavender, rose, pink, or white, often marked with purple and gold. Nurseries select for good color, large size, ruffled form. Gallon-size plants can bloom first year. Plant drops leaves early; holds a heavy crop of catalpa-like seedpods through winter and can look messy. Thin growth to enhance picturesque shape. Does best in dry, limy soil. Not for humid, high-rainfall areas. Look for the following recommended selections.

'Art's Seedless'. Large, rose-pink flowers with a darker lower lip. Slender leaves. Sterile flowers produce no seedpods.

'Bubba'. Lavender and purple flowers. To 20 ft. tall.

'Burgundy' ('Burgundy Lace'). Deep purplish red flowers.

'Dark Storm'. Lower lip of flower is deep wine-red, upper one lavender; lips are usually curved inward. Slow grower to 1215 ft. high and wide.

'Hope'. White flowers with pale yellow throat. Wispy, open growth.

'Lois Adams'. Profuse two-tone blooms in pale lavender and magenta; no seedpods. Compact, upright growth.

'Lucretia Hamilton'. Dark purple flowers in large clusters. To 1518 ft. high and wide.

'Regal'. Combination of lavender and wine-red like that of 'Dark Storm', but display is better, since blooms are flat faced and open throated.

'Rio Salado'. Large, ruffled, deep burgundy flowers. Vigorous growth.

'Timeless Beauty'. Long season of two-toned lavender and burgundy blooms; no seedpods. To 1520 ft. high and wide.

'Warren Jones'. Large, ruffled blossoms in pure, unshaded pink with paler throat. Holds its leaves longer; evergreen in Coastal South.

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