Red Rock Canyon A to Z

D: Desert Willow

As you drive or hike through Red Rock Canyon during the late spring, you may notice these large tree-like shrubs along washes with showy white, pink, and purple flowers. Next time you encounter desert willow, Chilopsis linearis, take in the fragrant scent of these showy blooms used to attract hummingbirds and bees. Desert willow wood was used for building fence posts, dried flowers were used for tea, and crushed leaves & bark were used for first-aid purposes. This plant gets its name because of the small narrow leaves and the woody branches that resemble willow plants. However, this plant is classified in the bignonia family (Bignoniceae) and not the willow family (Salicaceae) and isn’t a true willow; its closest relatives are much more tropical plants than willow plants.

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