- Author: Trisha E Rose
Published on: April 1, 2020
Plants that have adapted to the conditions found in a desert-scape are called Xerophytes. They tend to have smaller leaves and many have a waxy surface which helps the plant retain water. My garden has many examples of this type of plant and I have found that agaves and aloes really only need supplemental watering very occasionally.
I traveled quite a bit this summer and found a Palo Verde tree grows well in the desert. I consider this tree to fall into the xerophyte category due to its drought adaptation and favored growing conditions. I tried to grow the Palo Verde tree myself on a hillside with gravelly clay soil. My efforts to provide water to the young tree probably killed it in the end. I purchased the young start from the Solano Resource Conservation District during one of their plant sales. Before I purchase a “new to me” plant, I Google the labeled plant name. I am checking beforehand the plants favored conditions to see if it fits in with the microclimate found in my yard. Parkinsonia florida or Blue Palo Verde was my chosen plant, dare I say “experiment”, it is one of the species of palo verde. Though I am pretty diligent about checking the suitability of a new plant, I still consider any new plant type an experiment. This tree is native to the Sonoran desert of the Southwestern US and Northwestern Mexico. Its name in Spanish means a green stick or pole. Photosynthesis occurs in the leaves but also in the trunk and branches of this tree. During a severe drought, it will shed its leaves to prevent transpiration through its leaves, this is an adaptation this normally deciduous tree has made to better survive extreme conditions. The mature size is approximately 20-25' tall which is a good yard-size tree. The multiple trunks and branches have a blue-green hue that forms a sculptural shape. In the spring this tree has an abundant display of bright yellow flowers which will contrast well with its blue shaded bark. It wants to be planted in full sun with fast-draining soil and is cold hardy down to 20 degrees. Once the tree matures it only wants to be watered during drought conditions, I am guessing if you see any leaf drop then it needs water.