Ironwood Tree

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Tucson, Arizona

This wild-growing Desert Ironwood Tree (Olneya tesota) has become a symbol of the strength and survival instinct that desert inhabitants embody and require.
The tree has withstood soil impaction and burrowing of wolves, deer, and other animals that routinely sought its shade, as well as the excavation and construction associated with installation of irrigation lines that served the neighboring production nursery. In 2004, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum sought to expand its campus by constructing a new education complex. Project architects and museum officials understood the natural and cultural values of the tree. Accordingly, in spring 2007, the complex opened with the mature tree as its centerpiece. Today, the canopy of the tree extends over thirty feet in diameter and rises fifteen feet high. For thousands of annual visitors, the tree stands as a living representation of the museum’s mission to inspire people to live in harmony with the natural world by fostering love, appreciation, and understanding of the Sonoran Desert.

Photo © Mark Klett
educational partners
Garden DesignGeorge Eastman House
Additional Sponsors

John A. Brooks, Inc. • The Brown Foundation • Charles Butt • The City of Charleston • Barb & George Cochran • Topher Delaney• Jungle Gardens, Inc. • Magnolia Plantation & Gardens • Marc Dutton Irrigation, Inc. • Rancho Los Alamitos Foundation • L. Cary Saurage II Fund • Jeff & Patsy Tarr • Seibert & Rice