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Parkinsonia aculeata

Pronunciation: Par-kin-son-ee-a ah-kew-lee-ay-tuh
Family: Fabaceae/leguminosae (bean family)
Common Name: Jerusalem thorn, mexican palo verde
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
Height to: 25'
Width to: 20'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
Sun Exposure:
  • full sun
Bloom Description: The leaves appear shortly after rain, they fold up at night, and usually within a few days the tiny leaflets drop off, leaving the persistent rachises (midribs) to flutter like streamers in the wind. Eventually these fall off too, and accumulate like pine needles beneath the tree. A spectacular display of clustered pealike flowers in spring makes the whole tree look like a giant yellow bouquet. The brown pods are about 3-4 in (7. 6-10. 2 cm) long and constricted between the seeds.
Soil Type: Jerusalem thorn does well on sandy or gravelly soils, and is tolerant of alkaline and chalky soils. It grows fast and has few pests.
Propagation: By seed. Jerusalem thorn produces two kinds of seeds within the same pod. About 25% of the light brown seeds germinate readily. The rest of the light brown seeds and all of the dark brown seeds have hard seed coats which must be scarified before they will germinate.
Native to: Desert grasslands and canyons in mexico and the sw us where it often grows in association with mesquite (prosopis spp. ). It is grown as an ornamental in tropical and subtropical climates and has escaped cultivation and established in florida, california, the west indies, and in australia where it is regarded as one of the most troublesome invasive weeds in the northern territories. Jerusalem thorn has been used to revegetate desertified regions in africa and pakistan.
Notes for Identification: Source: floridata - jerusalem thorn is well suited to informal landscapes. Use it in a cactus and succulent garden and let its lacy foliage and slender twigs contrast with the solid blocky shapes of the succulents. Unaffected by heat, jerusalem thorn makes a fine street or patio tree and provides a delicate, filtered shade.
USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • 150 to 180 days ZONE 10
  • 180 to 210 days ZONE 11
  • Greater then 210 ZONE 12
Seed photo: 0
Located in: Seed Photos
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