Ebenopsis ebano

The Texas ebony is a multi- or single-trunk evergreen growing fifteen to thirty feet tall with equal spread. Its gnarly, zigzagging, gray stems make this an interesting accent tree. The wood is a rich, dark brown and has been used for making furniture, cabinetry and other products. This exquisite tree produces thin, green, round leaflets on curved, thorny branches. In late spring, small, creamy white, fragrant, puffy, spiked blossoms appear that cover the tree in significant clusters. Leathery, dark-brown bean pods about four inches long with fine hairs hang down from the tree and last for a long time. The pods eventually open and display small, brownish-black seeds. The seeds can be used as a coffee substitute. This slow- to medium grower adapts to harsh conditions, including drought, but grows quicker with supplemental irrigation. It is hardy to about fifteen degrees Fahrenheit and survives in areas that are extremely hot and dry. In some extreme summers it may slightly defoliate if not given any water, but will recover during the summer monsoons. Plant it in full sun with lots of reflected heat and provide yearly pruning, especially when young, to shape and train it. The species provides valuable shelter and food for wildlife including deer, javelina, and various birds. Use the Texas ebony as a specimen tree, barrier plant, or privacy screen in a patio or courtyard, or along highways, medians, or parking lots. The tree can be trained as a bonsai with its interesting shape and form. It is extremely thorny, so keep it away from pedestrian traffic. Texas ebony is a native to southern Texas along the plains of the Rio Grande, in deserts and scrubland area of Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, and Tamaulipas, Mexico, and into Baja California.

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