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.

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."

35 replies
  1. Patchwork
    Patchwork says:

    Those are beautiful trees. I like the 'airiness' of this kind of tree.
    We have mostly mesquite, here. And, some areas have Retama, which has a yellow bloom.
    Very pretty post. And, very informative. I can always count on learning something from you.

    Thanks,
    ~~Linda…

    Reply
  2. Jenni
    Jenni says:

    I love visiting your blog…I learn about all these great desert plants! I love the variety with the green trunk..it's so bold and colorful 🙂

    Reply
  3. Christine B.
    Christine B. says:

    Better flowers in your hair than critters, no? I had a kid over at dinner last night from Phoenix and he was lamenting missing your gorgeous springs down there. I asked him how much warmer is it than here right now…he said about 40 degrees. Pathetic, huh?

    Christine in Alaska

    Reply
  4. Kiki
    Kiki says:

    Woah..truly beautiful! It is always fun to see trees I have never heard of !! Magical..to find flowers in your hair!! Wonderful post Noelle….brilliant-beauty captured in all your photos! Can't get over the color of the trunks!! Awesome!!

    Have sparkly day!
    Kiki~

    Reply
  5. Kate
    Kate says:

    No complaints with flowers in the hair! That's a sure sign of happy springtime. Wow. Gorgeous tree. Wish I could find cool specimens like that who appreciate winter. :))

    Reply
  6. Gloria
    Gloria says:

    I love Palo Verde, but I had no idea there were so many varieties. Beautiful flower. I've never seen them in flower, just from the distance as we would drive through the desert

    Reply
  7. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Hi Noelle, those are beautiful trees and very adaptive to its environment. I havent seen a photosynthesizing trunk, meaning green! Reminds me of my joke that if i were a biotechnologist/ geneticist i will be making green men so even with food shortage they will just stay outside and harvest their food while doing nothing!

    Really your trees are awesome. The new header i like as well.

    Reply
  8. LeSan
    LeSan says:

    You're so right. Springtime in Arizona is amazing. What beautiful choices you made for showing off this lovely tree. And I love the idea of you with random garden flowers in your hair. –makes me smile. 🙂

    Reply
  9. Town Mouse
    Town Mouse says:

    Beautiful! I love Palo Verde! When we lived in Arizona, I planted one, though at that time, I had no idea there were some many different cultivars. Regardless, thanks for the memories…

    Reply
  10. noel
    noel says:

    aloha noelle,

    beautiful, i've never seen the flowers…i wonder if they are related to accacias too? thanks for sharing, i learned alot from your post on these trees!

    Reply
  11. debsgarden
    debsgarden says:

    I admired the Palo Verde tree when I visited Phoenix, but I did not know it flowered! I can see why you like them. They are beautiful trees. I like the color of their trunks, and I also like their branch structure. Thanks for a beautiful and informative post!

    Reply
  12. Rose
    Rose says:

    I was lucky enough to see these in bloom for the first time last year–they truly are beautiful trees! Thanks for all the interesting information about the different varieties. I was just pleased with myself that I even remembered the generic name of this tree:) But their green trunks are so distinctive, it's hard not to forget them.

    Reply
  13. Catherine@AGardenerinProgress
    Catherine@AGardenerinProgress says:

    I can't believe that tree is only 4 years old, it's huge and so pretty! I don't think I've heard of these trees before.
    I love this time of year too! I find all sorts of twigs and leaves in my hair after working in the yard. Yellow flowers sound much prettier 🙂

    Reply
  14. Helen at summerhouse
    Helen at summerhouse says:

    These really are gorgeous trees. The flowers are so beautiful too. We mostly have fruit trees in bloom here and the blossoms are usually various shades of pink or white. A tree in yellow is really striking looking.

    Reply
  15. ryan
    ryan says:

    Palo Verdes are incredibly beautiful. I'm glad you put in the latin names; I've found that the names change around a little and are difficult to follow for someone who doesn't live in their natural range. We can grow them with effort and they do pretty well in the hotter inland parts of the Bay Area, but I've never found a site where I could really justify it. Someday, though.
    Great photos.

    Reply
  16. Winter Weitzel
    Winter Weitzel says:

    I have a plant that has sprouted up this year in my backyard, it's similar to the blue palo verde can you confirm this for me please. We have a dog and want to make sure it's not poisonous. Not sure how to post pictures.

    Reply

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