One of the most colorful small shrubs in the Chihuahuan Desert, the trumpet flower (Tecoma stans), is rarely seen in El Paso probably because it has a very limited range where it is found mainly in Big Bend National Park and parts of the Davis Mountains. The three-foot shrub is commonly called yellow bells. If you are wanting to help pollinators in our city, trumpet flower attracts butterflies and hummingbirds and will add lots of color to your front or backyard. You won’t find it at most nurseries, but we did confirm this week that is was available at Sierra Vista Growers in Anthony.
Trumpet flower is in the family Bignoniaceae, the same family that the commonly seen desert willow is in. The plant prefers sandy and gravelly soils so it should do well here in El Paso. Once it gets started and it reaches a good sized shrub, it should be able to survive with very little water.
According to Steve West in his book Northern Chihuahuan Desert Wildflowers (Falcon Press, 2000) extracts from the plant have been used in treating syphilis, stomach cramps and diabetes.
Photos above Rick LoBello
Cover by Anne Reeves, Wikimedia Creative Commons