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Parkinsonia Aculeata (Jerusalem Thorn) is a small tree reaching 30 feet in height, with a short single or multiple trunks, with a branchy, low, open crown; branches and leaves are somewhat drooping.
Furthermore, mature trees have brown fissured bark; the bark of small stems and twigs is thin and greenish, hence the palo verde (green stem) common name, and bear thorns. Additionally, leaves are delicate, green alternate, bipinnate, 8-16 inches long with numerous tiny oval leaflets about 1/3 inch long. And, flowers are borne on long slender stems in clusters of small (3/4 inch in diameter) fragrant yellow to orange blossoms; appearing when the tree drops it leaves giving the tree the look of a giant bouquet of flowers. Consequently, flowers attract bees and other insects. While ruits are hard, flattened pods, about 1-4 inches long, constricted between the tiny seeds; seeds are used for propagation and are edible.
Several parts of the plant figure in herbal medicine, and livestock eat the leaves and fruits. Parkinsonia Aculeata (Jerusalem Thorn) is a hardy plant, will grow on most soils with good drainage and has few pests. In landscaping, the best use of this plant is in xeric gardens to contrast with the other desert plants, but it is also an attractive choice as a garden or park specimen tree, in parking lots for shade and along roadways. The tree benefits from pruning and can be trained into a hedge. It is considered an invasive species.
Other Names: Mexican Palo Verde