What’s not to like about Texas Kidneywood. Perhaps the name? Why name a plant after an organ? According to local lore, the plant was supposed to have magical healing powers used to treat bladder and kidney disorders.
Aside from that it is a lovely native plant, ideal for small spaces and above all it is drought resistant. It is a small tree, often multi-trunked and only 6-10 ft tall, although I have seen several references that it can grow to 15 feet. It is a member of the legume family, and the fine compound leaves are reminiscent of the mimosa tree. When crushed the leaves emit a citrusy fragrance. In late summer tiny white flowers emerge in clusters at the tips of the branches and are soon covered by bees and butterflies. It is said that the nectar makes good honey and the wood can be used for dyes.
Texas Kidneywood is a host plant for the Southern Dogface butterfly.
It is quite drought tolerant once established and is very common in the Rio Grande Plains, Edwards Plateau and Trans-Pecos eco-regions where it grows in calcareous soils. It is adaptable to other areas as well and prefers light shade in well drained soils.
Have deer? Watch out. Since the leaves are very nutritious it is loved by deer.