blue palo verde
|Tree in flower|
Parkinsonia florida, the blue palo verde (syn. Cercidium floridum), is a species of palo verde native to the Sonoran Deserts in the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. Its name means "green pole or stick" in Spanish, referring to the green trunk and branches, that perform photosynthesis.
This plant is primarily found in the Sonoran Colorado Desert of southeastern California, and the Sonoran Deserts of southern Arizona and of northwestern Sonora state (Mexico). It is found predominantly in desert washes or bajadas, a result of its need for water, although occasionally it can be found in creosote desert scrub habitat, accessing seeps in desert hills up to 3,600 feet (1,100 m). Also found in the far eastern Mojave Desert of California in the northern Lower Colorado River Valley, and occasionally in the Mojave's mountains.
Parkinsonia florida grows to heights of 10–12 metres (33–39 ft). It is a rapidly growing large shrub or small tree, and rarely survives to 100 years. Compared to the closely related Parkinsonia microphylla (foothill paloverde), it appears more decumbent in overall form, is taller, and matures more quickly.
The plant's trunk, branches, and leaves are gray-green in color, hence the common name. The plant is drought-deciduous, shedding its foliage for most of the year, leafing out after rainfall. Photosynthesis is performed by the gray-green branches and twigs, regardless of absent leaves.
The flowers are bright yellow, and pea-like, which cover the tree in late spring. They attract pollinators such as bees, beetles, and flies. They are followed by seed pods which are slightly larger and flatter and have harder shells than the foothill paloverde. These are a food source for small rodents and birds.
The plant's beans were used as a food source, and wood for carving ladles, by the indigenous Quechan, Mojave, and Pima people. The Pima and Tohono Oʼodham both ate the beans when soft and immature and cooked whole; they also ground the ripe seeds into flour to eat as atole or gruel. The flowers are sweet and edible either fresh or cooked.
Parkinsonia florida is cultivated as an ornamental plant and tree by specialty plant nurseries, for planting as a shrub or multi-trunked small tree in drought tolerant and wildlife gardens of suitable climates. It offers an unusual green-blue silhouette in gardens, and delicately patterned light shade over patios.
Taxonomy and symbols
- USDA . accessed 4.1.2013
- Calflora Database: Parkinsonia florida accessed 4.1.2013
- Jepson. accessed 4.1.2013
- Calflora Database: distribution map
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Information Network (NPIN) . accessed 4.1.2013
- University of Michigan – Dearborn: Native American Ethnobotany . accessed 4.1.2013
- Peattie, Donald Culross (1953). A Natural History of Western Trees. New York: Bonanza Books. p. 576.
- Las Pilitas Horticultural Treatment
- California Native Plant Link Exchange—CNLPX: horticulture, seed and nursery sources
- Shelley, Donna. "South Miami History: Part III". City of South Miami, SOMI Magazine. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- Media related to Parkinsonia florida at Wikimedia Commons
- Data related to Parkinsonia florida at Wikispecies
- USDA Plants Profile for Parkinsonia florida (blue paloverde)
- "Parkinsonia florida". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- Jepson Manual Treatment; Parkinsonia florida
- Calflora Database: Parkinsonia florida (blue paloverde)
- Arizona State Tree: Blue paloverde; (pdf file)
- Parkinsonia florida; U.C. Photo gallery