Desert Willow

Common Names:
Desert Willow, Mimbre
Scientific name:
Chilopsis linearis
Subspecies | Variants:
Chilopsis linearis var. originaria, Chilopsis linearis subsp. arcuata
Elevation range:
<5,500 ft.
Flowering Months:
April, May, June, July, August
Height | Length:
6-18 ft.
Life Cycle | Lifeform:
Pollinator or food source for:
Water-indicating plant, Sweet scent, Attracts native bees, Food for insects & larvae, Attracts butterflies, Food for birds, Nesting place for birds
Ancestral Usage:
food, medicinal, clothing/shoes, basketry/tools, shelter
State Occurrences:
Parks & Preserves:
Arizona Native Plant Law:
Salvage Assessed
Desert region:
Chihuahuan, Mojave, Sonoran

Native Americans made bows from the flexible branches of the Desert Willow. Flowers were eaten and plant parts made into medicines and poultices. These shrubs are often used as ornamentals in native plant gardens for their beautiful orchid-like flowers, delicate aroma and their attractiveness to many bird species.

Desert Willow 8

Desert Willow in the desert

The Chilopsis linearis flower is crinkly and delicate. It varies from dark pink to white overall, and the corolla has magenta stripes throughout and two yellowish stripes in the center. Pipes Canyon, CA | August 2013  

Desert Willow 7

Desert Willow in the desert

Chilopsis linearis is a shrub or small tree with maximum height of 25 ft. It is deciduous in winter. Joshua Tree National Park | April 2015    

Desert Willow 6

Desert Willow in the desert

Chilopsis linearis flowers and buds aren't conspicuous from a distance. Up close they resemble orchid flowers. Joshua Tree National Park | April 21, 2015  

Desert Willow 1

Desert Willow in the desert

A large old Chilopsis linearis tree in a deep wash. Anza Borrego Desert State Park | December 1, 2013   

Desert Willow 10

Desert Willow  in the desert

Larger pollinators tend to pollinate Chilopsis linearis but honey bees and native bees also use the flowers as a food source. Pipes Canyon | August 2009   

Desert Willow 9

Desert Willow in the desert

Closeup of Chilopsis linearis long narrow leaves. Pipes Canyon | September 2014