Mexican Palo Verde
Jerusalem Thorn

Parkinsonia aculeata

Photo by Michael Plagens

This photo was taken in Phoenix June 2007 and is also hosted at Wikimedia.

TREE: A medium-sized, fast-growing large shrub or small tree.

LEAVES: Compound leaves have very long rachises and numerous minute leaflets. When drought sets in, the leaflets fall off leaving the long, strap-like rachises to serve as leaves giving the whole plant a feathery look.

RANGE: Abundant in disturbed sites near agriculture and city lots. Sometimes planted as an ornamental, but more often arrives as an advent from seed. Probably not native in the Arizona Sonoran Desert. Treated as an exotic invasive in many places; Australia for example.

FLOWERS: Yellow flowers have five petals and are bilaterally symetrical to irregular. After pollination the petals change color to orange. Flowering peaks in mid spring, but then continues sporadically through summer and into fall.

ARMED: Significant and very sharp thorns make this weedy tree a chore to prune.

FRUIT: Elongate pods with several bean seeds. The pods are distinctly constricted between seeds.

Fabaceae -- Bean Family

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 6 March 2008,
updated 29 Jan. 2022.