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Mexican Palo Verde

Articles: Mexican Palo Verde

Mexican palo verde (Parkinsonia aculeata). Photographs by Don Walker

Valued for its tolerance of both soil and climate extremes, Mexican palo verde (Parkinsonia aculeata) has long been cultivated as an ornamental tree in warm climates throughout the world. Along the way, however, it has developed a split personality. As a garden tree in some regions (coastal Southern California, for example), it is a beautiful and easy drought-tolerant small tree with few faults. But in many other areas of the world (notably in parts of Australia), it grows too easily, and has become a horrible weed that threatens entire indigenous ecosystems. So, depending on who you’re talking to when you say the words “palo verde,” you may be met with either smiles or screams!

Good Tree

Although it will tolerate regular watering, Mexican palo verde is one of the few ornamental trees that can grow in Southern California gardens without supplemental irrigation. A member of the legume family, it grows quickly at first, then slows to an eventual fifteen to twenty-five feet tall and wide with a graceful, spreading habit and picturesque f...

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