Saturday, March 20, 2010

Palo Verde Tree

Palo verde, in Spanish, means green stick and refers to the palo verde trees greenish trunk and branches.
The palo verde trees photographed in this blog, except as otherwise stated, were in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona.
There are two species: the foothill palo verde and the blue palo verde. The foothill palo verde reaches a height of about 20 feet and has yellower bark and duller yellow to white flowers. This flower from a blue palo verde was found on the bajada south of the Eagle Mountains outside Joshua Tree National Park.
The blue palo verde can get to twice the height, about 40 feet, and has more of a bluish-green bark. It grows primarily in washes and needs more water than the foothill. It grows faster, but does not live as long, rarely living 100 years. By contrast, the foothill palo verde is more commonly in the uplands and many live more than 100 years, some as long as 400 years. The palo verde can photosynthesize through its green bark, an adaptation that allows it to drop its leaves in the warm season.
It can also drop stems and branches to combat drought. The flowers are yellow
and appear in the spring
and are accompanied by seed pods.
The blue palo verde is the Arizona state tree. Blue palo verde is found in central and southwest Arizona, southeastern California and western Sonora, Mexico. Foothill palo verde has a less extensive range, not being found in California.  In preparing this blog, I just learned about the two types and I suspect that my photos are all of the foothill palo verde. Now as I go out into the desert again, I'll be more cognizant of the difference and be more attentive as I look for the two varieties.

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