Description: Ironwood is a desert evergreen with dark gray bark and small dark green leaves clustered like those on mesquite. The tree produces small pinkish flowers and seed pods between May and early summer.
Desert ironwood makes excellent firewood; it burns long and hot and makes good coals. Harvest for woodcarvings and charcoal has nearly extirpated large trees in most of Sonora, and campers and illegal woodcutters are depleting accessible populations in the United States. Because of their slow growth rate and historic-modern depletion, it has become illegal to harvest and/or burn ironwood; this tree is protected in both Sonora and Arizona.
Uses: The wood is extremely dense; it will not float in water. The Seri Indians favor the ironwood to make their famous wood carvings - a craft developed in the early 1960s for tourist trade. The seeds could also be used as food, if leached and then ground.
Kimberley A. Ryan, Northern Arizona University Anthropology Laboratories