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Parkinsonia aculeata
Parkinsonia aculeata

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Zones 8-29, H1, H2
Full Sun
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Parkinsonia aculeata

Jerusalem Thorn, Mexican Palo Verde
Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Deciduous, Trees


Tough, trouble-free desert trees valued for floral display, shade, and colorful bark. Clusters of small, bright yellow flowers nearly hide the spiny branches. Lightly filtered shade is cast by an intricate canopy of twigs rather than by the leaves, which are divided into tiny leaflets and quickly drop in drought or cold. Prune only to enhance the form, removing crossing, wayward, or too-low branches; hold off on pruning when temperatures rise above 100°F (38°C). Flowering branches are attractive in arrangements.

Parkinsonia aculeata

Native to southwestern U.S. and Mexico. Grows to 15–30 ft. tall and wide. Yellow-green bark, spiny twigs, and a picturesque form. Numerous yellow flowers in loose clusters to 7 in. long. Long bloom season in spring; intermittent bloom throughout year. Flowers are followed by 2–6-in.-long seedpods that mature in summer; litter drop is a problem. Thorns and sparse foliage rule it out of tailored gardens. Reseeds freely in the desert. Tolerates alkaline soil.

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