in Tucson, Phoenix,
and Southern California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, and Southern California

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Parkinsonia florida: Blue Palo Verde

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Form: Tree.
Leaf retention: Drought and cold deciduous.
Growth rate: Moderate to rapid.
Mature Size: 25' high and wide.
Flowers: Five vivid yellow petals, edible.
Bloom: Spring.
Fruit: Seed pod, flat, thin, with pointed ends. Beans are edible but should be blanched, sprouted, or cooked either when small and green or when mature and dry.
Leaves: Small, blue-green, oval, larger than those of Yellow Palo Verde, missing if exposed to drought. Provides light filtered shade.
Stems: Short thorns at leaf nodes, smooth blue-green bark, gray scars tend to accumulate on lower trunk with age.
Roots: Nitrogen-fixing*.
Wildlife: Seed pods attract birds, small mammals.
Toxic / Danger: Small thorns on branches at leaf nodes, more a minor nuisance than a problem.
Origin: California, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 8-10.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun.
Water after becoming established: Deeply, monthly.
Soil: Well drained, dry, low in organic content, pH 5.6-8.5 (acidic to alkaline). *Do not use a nitrogen fertilizer.
Prune: Remove dead branches, mistletoe and witches' broom after flowering. In warm weather only, remove lowest branches early to train into tree shape. Dip pruning shears in a 10% solution of bleach in water after every cut to avoid spreading diseases such as witch's broom.
Litter: Flower and seed pods in spring.
Propagation: Seed, scarified and soaked.
Uses: Ornamental, filtered shade.

Former scientific name: Cercidium floridum. This is the first palo verde to bloom in the spring. It needs more water than the Yellow Palo Verde, performs best below 4000 feet elevation, and may require more pruning. Lifespan is 20-40 years.

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