Desert ironwood

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Desert ironwood
Desert ironwood.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Olneya tesota

The desert ironwood is a species of evergreen tree with a dense hardwood from which its name is derived. The wood in the plant is so dense it was useful as a hot and long burning firewood. The plant was also used to make tools by the natives of the amazon region about 200 years ago. Back then the plant was well used, but now the shrub is protected in order to help preserve it.


The ironwood desert tree is the densest wood in the world, and the tree can grow to 45 feet high. It can live as long as 1500 years housing animals in the 500's. 230 plants grow under and around the iron wood. The plant decreases the temperature to 15% underneath the shrub. The shrub has been prohibited from harvesting to preserve it. The wood is also rare because it lives in the desert. 150 bird species live in it, 62 reptiles, 64 mammals, 25 ant colonies, and 25 other types of insects inhabit the desert iron wood.[1] Because the desert ironwood lives in the desert it conserves water. The result from that is it becomes a denser wood. That's why it's called ironwood.


The shrub is considered to be a pea plant because the shrub's seeds look like pea pods and are distributed and planted by birds and other animals eating and not fully digesting them. The tree also has lavender flowers when blooming and pollen is distributed by bees native to the area (estimated around 50 types of bees). The plant gets most of its nutrition from the animals around the shrub and leaves falling from its branches..[2]


The desert ironwood has a nickname of the "nurse plant" because it feeds and serves as a shelter for animals, and insects, and other plants.[3] The ironwood is too hard for birds to hollow-out because of its density, but they can live in its roots. Insects live there as well as reptiles and birds. The seeds from the desert ironwood provide protein rich food for birds, rodents, and coyotes. The ironwood, of course, lives in the desert and is a great shelter for animals, plants, and insects. The plant is rare and in danger of being harvested for hot firewood and commercial purposes, but the government and others have protected it from use. It has a key role in the desert life of animals and insects. This shrub lives in the lower elevations, below 2,500 ft. The desert ironwood is dense because it grows slowly.[4]