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Little Leaf Palo Verde, Foothills Palo Verde, Yellow Palo-Verde

Parkinsonia microphylla

Details & Attributes


Plant Type(s) Tree, perennial
Native to Arizona Yes!
Water Needs Low
Sun Full sun
Pollinators Bees, beetles, flies
Has Spines Yes
Size
In relative feet, width by height
15-20 × 15-20
Freeze Tolerant No
Flowering Season April-May
Flower Color Yellow
Minimum Temperature Range 15-20 °F
Leaf Description Tiny, on thorntipped stems
Fruit Legume (bean)
View on SEINet View SEINet Entry
Range Map View SEINet Range Map
Elevation Range 500-3500 ft.
Ethnobotany The seeds were dried and roasted before being ground into meal for mush or cakes. Green pods can be eaten raw, similar to edamame (soybean) in texture. The wood was used for carving ladles.
Description This tree serves as an indicator species of the Sonoran Desert, and is often a dominant or codominant member of the Sonoran Desert Flora on hillsides, plains and slopes. Many young cacti and shrubs, most notably Saguaros, use this plant as a "nurse tree", a place to establish with less sun exposure and richer soil than open ground. In the spring a shower of yellow blooms lights up hillsides all across the Sonoran Desert, much to the joy of pollinators and plant lovers. The light green bark and architectural form of this species make it a lovely centerpiece for a dry garden. Be sure to plant it somewhere where you will not feel compelled to over-prune, since this tree shines when its natural shape is allowed to develop. Surround this planting with tough shrubs such as fairy duster (Calliandra eriophylla), chuparosa (Justicia californica), and bursage (Ambrosia spp.), as well as cacti like saguaro (Carnegia gigantea), cholla (Cylindropuntia spp.), and hedgehog cacti (Echinocereus spp.). This tree grows best in well draining soils, and likes slopes. For heavier clays or bottomlands consider using its close relative blue palo verde.