Sonoran Desert Beans

The most diverse and familiar of the Bean Subfamilies. The others are Mimosoideae and Ceasalpinioideae. Flowers are strongly bilaterally symmetrical - i.e. a pea flower. Fruit is a legume, although some species have one-seeded bean pods. Leaves of many species are once compound. Herbs, vines, shrubs and trees.

Desert Ironwood

Olneya tesota

Smoke Tree

Psorothamnus spinosus

Evergreen tree with compound leaves lilac-colored flowers in May. Exceptionally hard wood and sharply thorny. Sonoran Desert areas free of hard freezes.    Detailed Description

Nearly leafless tree with long, sharp thorns. Small, vivid purple flowers. Legume small usu. with one seed. Only in far western and southwestern portions of the Sonoran Desert.    Detailed Description

Hairy Prairie Clover

Dalea mollis

Indigo Bush

Psorothamnus fremontii

Photograph © by Michael Plagens

Grows close to soil forming a soft mat. Pale purple flowers in hairy spikes. Spring to early summer. Detailed Description

After winter rains this white-stemmed shrub has green, pinnate leaves and by mid spring dark purple pea-flowers. Mojave Desert.    Detailed Description

Sponsored Links


Coursetia glandulosa

Gregg's Prairie Clover

Dalea greggii

Deciduous shrub with compound leaves and yellow-white pea flowers. Legumes are noticeably sticky. Fairly common in canyons along eastern and southern parts of the Sonoran Desert.    Detailed Description

Mountain foothills near Tucson. Capitate inflorescence with purplish flowers. Upright or somewhat trailing along ground.   Detailed Description

Southwestern Coral Bean

Erythrina flabelliformis

Slimjim Bean

Phaseolus filiformis

Photograph © by Michael Plagens

Woody shrub with lipstick-red flowers. Prickles on twigs and leaf midrib. Trifoliate leaves. Detailed Description

Photograph © by Michael Plagens

Herbaceous vine appearing after summer rains on wash banks and in canyons. Three triangular leaflets. Detailed Description

Sponsored Links

Arizona Sophora

Sophora arizonica

Feather Plume

Dalea formosa

Woody, thornless shrub or small tree with lilac flowers that smell like grapes. Leaves dark and evergreen. Rare in a few mountain foothills. Texas Sophora is similar and is a popular xeriscape plant in Phoenix and Tucson.     Detailed Description

Graceful curving twigs with feathery blooms. Low shrub of upper Sonoran Desert in transition to chaparral or grassland. Flowers also purple with a yellow petal.    Detailed Description

Texas Mountain Laurel

Calia secundiflora

Louisiana Vetch

Vicia ludoviciana

Photograph © by Michael Plagens

Small tree with dark green leaves and clusters of grape-colored and scented large flowers. Native to Texas, but widely planted here. Detailed Description

Photograph © by Michael Plagens

Herbaceous vine mostly in wetter soils in riparian habitat. Rachis of compound leaf ends in tendril. Detailed Description

Sponsored Links

More on Page 2 -->


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2014