Palo Verde tree

This is a Palo Verde tree in Phoenix, Arizona (Parkinsonia or Cercidium species). In that area these trees are planted all over and appear to reseed frequently. This photo was taken on Memorial Day weekend in Phoenix and it was typical of the trees we saw there - just beautiful. I see them planted more and more in my part of California, but the blooms never look quite like they did in Phoenix. Maybe I just haven't seen them at the right time of year, the weather isn't quite right, or the commonly used California garden selection doesn't have the prolific blooms of the (presumably) wilder Phoenix variety. That can happen - there are three Parkinsonia species and a grower may choose to produce a hybrid or garden selection en masse from cuttings or other method that produces clonal invariants. Bloom seems delayed here by a month or more compared to Phoenix.
Though I live in Palos Verdes, the "green sticks" where my hill gets its name are not the green sticks of the Palo Verde tree branches*: Parkinsonia is is only endemic to the southeastern desert part of the state. Nonetheless, native plant enthusiasts in my area sometimes use Palo Verde as part of their gardens and it looks good - beautiful blooms and striking branch structure.

 There's a Desert Museum selection that was once popular - I think it still is.

In the late 1970's Mark Dimmitt with the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) began noticing Blue Palo Verdes that exhibited characteristics suggesting they were hybrids of other Palo Verde species. He collected and planted seeds from the assorted trees he had observed and began evaluating them. By 1981 he had identified a thornless seedling as clearly superior to the others collected. Careful evaluation of the genetic composition of this hybrid, named 'Desert Museum', revealed it to be a complex hybrid having genetic characteristics from Mexican, Blue and Foothill Palo Verde. Dimmitt suspects that 'Desert Museum' gets it vigorous growth, sturdy, upright branching habit and bright flowers from P. aculeate, and its small delicate leaves from the Cercidium species. Trees have tolerated temperatures of 15 degrees without damage in Tucson. The most remarkable and unique feature of this hybrid is the absence of thorns. Flowers are slightly larger than those of P. aculeata and other Cercidiums and trees have been observed to flower abundantly as early as mid-March in southern Arizona with intense, full bloom lasting into late spring and early summer. Intermittent flowering can continue into the mid to late fall. Source: http://www.aridzonetrees.com

*The green sticks in the place name Palos Verdes are thought to be the reeds that once surrounded the hill in the low lying (and navigable by canoe) marsh areas that are now parts of Lomita, Torrance, San Pedro, and other cities.

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