Why Are They Green?

“Nature is calling out to you. Love nature, the way nature loves you.”

Southern Arizona, the Sonoran desert, is home to many species of trees and plants that grow nowhere else in the world.  Like our state tree, the Palo Verde.  Many people ask, including me when I first came here, why are the tree trunks and branches so green?  Here’s the answer, excerpted from Desert Harvesters:

Palo Verde, Spanish for “green pole” or “green stick,” are so named because their trunks and branches are green. In Arizona there are two native Palo Verde species: the Foothills Palo Verde and the Blue Palo Verde. In the desert, Foothills Palo Verde are found on rocky slopes, while Blue Palo Verde tend to grow along arroyos, or washes. Both species make great nurse trees, providing protection for other native plants such as baby saguaro.

Foothills Palo Verde - My Back Yard

Foothills Palo Verde (Cercidium microphyllum) trees have a yellow-green trunk, tiny leaves, and a spine at the end of each branch. Their seeds are large with a seed pod that constricts around them.

Blue Palo Verde (Cercidium floridum) trees have a blue-green trunk, larger leaves, small spines along the branch at the leaf nodes, and no spine at the end of the branch. Blue Palo Verde seed pods are larger pod than Foothills seed pods, and the pod does not constrict around the seeds.

When these trees are in full bloom in the spring, there is no mistaking what kind they are.  They display the most lovely yellow flowers covering the whole tree.  You can be sure I’ll be finding the best ones to photograph and post them here when they’re in full bloom.

As always, click the image to enlarge.  Namaste.

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