Parkinsonia praecox

The semi-deciduous tree grows twenty to thirty feet tall with a spread of twenty to forty feet, producing an umbrella-like canopy. It adds sculptural beauty with its greenish-blue leaves and smooth, structural green trunk. Palo brea produces brilliant yellow blossoms in abundance in spring and then intermittently throughout the summer and fall. After blooming, long, flat, papery, tan seedpods hang from the tree. While hardy to fifteen to twenty degrees Fahrenheit, the species could suffer some tip damage in a cold winter. It is more sensitive to frost than the other palo verdes; however, it is a fast grower and recovers quickly in the spring. It grows with moderate to light irrigation, and prefers well-draining soils, full sun, and reflected heat. Palo brea needs some pruning to maintain its form and character, but be cautious of its spiny branches when pruning. Avoid planting it near walkways or pedestrian traffic. The branching habit and silhouette of this tree makes it a good accent, streetscape, or median tree. It can also be used as a landscape specimen tree or focal point at the entry of a residential or commercial setting. Its distinctive quality with its smooth green trunk and interwoven branches makes this an attractive tree and great landscape plant. It grows natively on desert plains and mesas at elevations up to 2,500 feet in central Sonora, Mexico and Baja California. It is also found growing in Peru, Venezuela, and Ecuador.

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