|Ironwood is a member of the Pea Family.
grows into a tree to 35 feet in height and has gray bark which is
smooth on younger trees, but becomes fissured and dark with age. The
trunk grows to 1.5
feet in diameter. Leaves are bluish
green and oblong with fine hairs and grow to 2 inches in length. A pair
of thorns, 0.5 inches in length, grows at the base of each leaf.
The wood of the Desert Ironwood
is extremely dense and will sink if you put it in water. A cubic
foot of Ironwood weighs in at 66 pounds.
Ironwoods bloom between May - June and
produce pale to deep purple flowers with 5 petals which grow to 0.5
inches in width. Flowers are followed by a brown, hairy, beanlike pod
which grows to 2.5 inches in length. The seeds are eaten by many
animals including birds and other animals, while the leaves are
browsed by bighorn sheep. Native Americans also ate the seeds which
supposedly taste somewhat like peanuts. They are mildly toxic,
however, and should not be eaten in any quantity without proper
preparation. Ironwood is very slow to grow and has been reduced from
much of its historic range. Because of this, the trees are protected
in Arizona, where it is illegal to cut or burn them.