This is my favorite time of year in the garden. You may be saying, of course it is….it is spring after all. Isn’t that everybody’s favorite time? Well, there is another reason. This time of year I cannot go outside without coming back inside with a yellow flower or two in my hair.
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Desert Museum Palo Verde (Parkinsonia hybrid ‘Desert Museum’)
All three of my Palo Verde trees are blooming. Each one is covered in yellow blossoms. Actually some of the branches are hanging quite low due to the weight of the flowers. My Palo Verde tree above, is about 4 years old and will eventually grow to be about 30 ft. tall and wide.
‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde flowers
Palo Verde trees are the iconic trees of the desert southwest. The word “Palo Verde” is Spanish for “Green Stick”, which aptly describes their green trunks.
In times of extreme drought, they drop their leaves to avoid losing excess moisture and they will continue to photosynthesize through their green trunks. What a great survival mechanism, don’t you think?
There are quite a few different types of Palo Verde trees. My favorite is a hybrid that was found growing in the Tucson desert near the Sonoran Desert Musuem. Appropriately, it is called ‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde.
It grow very quickly, is thornless, produces yellow flowers somewhat larger then their cousins and is quite low-maintenance.
Blue Palo Verde (Parkinsonia floridium)
Blue Palo Verde trees are also quite beautiful and an asset in the landscape. Their bark has more of a gray-green color and is a slower growing Palo Verde.
Palo Verde trees flower in the spring and mine sometimes flower a little in the fall, although that is not always dependable.
Palo Brea (Parkinsona praecox)
Another type of Palo Verde is the Palo Brea tree. Their trunk is bluish green in color. They do have thorns and must be pruned often to keep their branches from growing downwards. But, they are absolutely lovely in the landscape.
Foothills Palo Verde (Parkinsonia microphylla)
Last, but not least, are the Foothills Palo Verde, which grow very slowly, but have beautiful branch architecture. This is the type of Palo Verde that you will find growing out in the desert most often.
Lately, every time I come back inside from the garden, I find a flower or two that has fallen into my hair.
Did I mention that I love this time of year?
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."