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 feet from California to Texas, south into Mexico. Grows 1530 feet tall, 10 20 feet wide; grows fast at first (as much as 3 feet in a season), then slows. With age, develops shaggy bark and twisting trunks. Narrow, willow-type leaves grow to 25 inches 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 feet 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 feet 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 feet 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 feet 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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