Tag Archive for: Blue Palo Verde

Do you like palo verde trees?

Blue palo verde (Parkinsonia florida)

I must confess that I fell in love with these iconic desert trees with their green trunks and yellow flowers when I moved to Arizona 28 years ago.

Some people may resent the mess that the fallen flowers leave behind in late spring, but I don’t mind – they look like a carpet of yellow.

Blue palo verde (Parkinsonia florida) is on my ‘fuss-free‘ list of trees that add beauty to the arid landscape.

How about you?  Do you like blue palo verde trees?

Want to learn more about this desert beauty?  Check out my latest plant profile for Houzz.com:

Great Design Plant: Parkinsonia Flor Paints the Desert Green and Yellow

I don’t have a favorite tree….I actually have quite a few favorites.  But, if I had to pick one that I like most of all, it would be the ‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde (Parkinsonia x ‘Desert Museum’).

Palo Verde tree

This Palo Verde is natural hybrid, resulting from 3 other Palo Verde tree species – Mexican Palo Verde (Parkinsonia mexicans), Blue Palo Verde (Parkinsonia florida) and Little Leaf Palo Verde (Parkinsonia microphylla) trees.

I have grown this tree in commercial settings as well as in my own landscape with great results.

Palo Verde tree

They grow quickly, are thornless, and flower over a longer period of time then other Palo Verde species.

‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verdes do great in full sun and areas with reflected heat such as a parking lot or in a west-facing exposure.

A Palo Verde Tree That Rises Above the Rest

I love how beautiful flowers in spring, when they bloom.  I also think they are pretty when they blanket the ground.

If you are somewhat of a neat and tidy gardener, then you may not enjoy the flowering season as much as I do.

Don’t waste your money on a large-size tree.  Because they grow fairly quickly, a 15-gallon is a good size to start out with.  Once planted in the ground, a 15-gallon will grow more quickly then a larger-size container.  The reason is that smaller trees are younger and handle transplant stress better.  So save yourself money and go with the smaller tree.

Want to learn more about this fabulous tree?

Check out my latest plant profile on Houzz.com

 

 

 

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My Desert Museum Palo Verde and an Unfortunate Event

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.

yellow flower

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.

yellow flower

 ‘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?

yellow flower

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

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

 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

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. 

Yellow flower

Yellow flower

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?

Iconic tree

  Iconic tree, Blue Palo Verde (Parkinsonia florida)

When people think of the Sonoran desert, hillsides studded with saguaro cactus and cholla often come to mind.   But interspersed between the cactus, you will find the iconic palo verde trees with their beautiful green trunks and branches.

Grab my FREE guide for Fuss-Free Plants that thrive in a hot, dry climate!

The word “Palo Verde” means “green stick” in Spanish, referring to their green trunk, which is a survival mechanism in response to drought.  

Palo verde trees are “drought deciduous,” which means that they will drop their leaves in response to a drought situation.  Their green trunks and branches can carry on photosynthesis, even in the absence of leaves. 

'Desert Museum' Palo Verde

 ‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde (Parkinsonia hybrid ‘Desert Museum’)

Palo verde trees act as a “nurse plant” to young saguaro cacti by protecting them from the cold in the winter and from the intense sun in the summer.  Beautiful, yellow flowers are the product in the spring.    

Desert Museum' Flower

 Desert Museum’ Flower

There are three species of palo verde that are native to the desert Southwest; blue palo verde (Parkinsonia florida), formerly (Cercidium floridum), foothill palo verde (Parkinsonia microphylla), formerly (Cercidium microphyllum) and ‘desert museum’ palo verde (Parkinsonia x ‘Desert Museum’)

Another species of palo verde that is prevalent in the landscape are called palo brea (Parkinsonia praecox), formerly (Cercidium praecox).  They have a dusty green trunk and branches that twist and turn.  Their cold hardiness range is around 15 to 20 degrees F.

Iconic tree

 Iconic tree, Palo Brea

PALO VERDE USES: Palo verde trees serve as beautiful specimen trees where their green trunks, branch structure, and flowers serve as an attractive focal point in the landscape.  They are drought tolerant, once established and provide lovely filtered shade year-round.  

When deciding where to place your tree, be sure to take into account that they need a lot of room to grow, mature sizes are listed below.  

Palo Verdes don’t do well when planted in grass and will decline over time.  Locate away from swimming pools due to flower litter in the spring.

Because of their more massive thorns and branching tendency to point downwards, palo brea trees aren’t recommended in areas close to foot traffic.  

Mature Sizes:

Blue Palo Verde – 30 ft x 30 ft

‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde – 30 ft high x 40 ft wide

Palo Brea – 30 ft x 25 ft

Foothills Palo Verde – 20 ft x 20 ft

As with many desert trees, Palo Verde trees have thorns, except for the ‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde.  

Iconic tree

 Foothills Palo Verde

PALO VERDE MAINTENANCE:  Prune to elevate the canopy and maintain good structure.  Avoid hedging and “topping” trees as this stimulates excess, weak growth.

MY FAVORITE: As a landscape manager, horticulturist and arborist, I have grown and maintained all of the palo verde species mentioned, and I truly enjoy them all.  However, at home, I have 4 ‘Desert Museum’ trees.  In comparison to the other species, their trunks are a deeper green; they produce larger flowers, are thornless and grow very quickly in the desert.  Also, they require little, if any, tree staking when planted.