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The Palo Verde

It is impossible to live in or even visit Arizona without seeing our state tree everywhere you look. The Palo Verde tree is the perfect choice for any Arizona landscape, and for a good reason. It is built to survive our harshest weather, provides shade and privacy, supports the local ecosystem, and is just plain gorgeous. So if you plan to plant a tree in Arizona, Palo Verde must be at the top of your list of considerations.

The name Palo Verde translated, means "green stick" or "green wood" in Spanish and is a very appropriate name. All tree parts are green, from the leaves to the branches, limbs, and trunk. Superbly adapted to the desert, these trees are among the most drought-tolerant available. It is also one of the most beautiful in the desert when in bloom. Four species and one hybrid tree are commonly found and go by Palo Verde. When people talk about palo verde trees, they often refer to the "blue palo verde" and a younger variation, the "museum palo verde ."The museum palo verde is a more modern variation that combines elements of other palo verde trees. It has become the favored variation due to its lack of thorns. Besides their unique bark, these trees are famous for spring's intense spread of bright yellow flowers. These bountiful yellow blooms are a colorful asset to any landscape.

Below are a few of North America's most common Palo Verde species.

  • Blue palo verde - this famous tree is taller and more upright. It can grow over 30 feet tall as well as comprehensive. It's also fast-growing. You can expect this tree to reach its full size very quickly. As the name suggests, it has a bluish tint to its green trunk and branches.

  • Foothill palo verde - You'll find this one primarily in the desert near Tucson or Mexico. It prefers very little water and grows slowly. When in bloom, their paler yellow flowers are less abundant than other species and only bloom for a short time. Although it isn't often the choice for urban yards, this tree is a staple in the wild, providing shelter and food for many plant and animal species.

  • Mexican palo verde is one of the most well-known species, but there are more popular choices nowadays. Due to its habit of growing and throwing seeds rapidly, owners of this plant will have to monitor for new sprouts and remove them as needed.

  • 'Desert Museum - A hybrid of the above three trees, the desert museum has all the best attributes of its predecessors and none of the bad. It is quickly becoming the favorite among landscapers and homeowners alike. It's known for being thornless, with an upright growth habit. It produces an abundance of bright yellow flowers over a more extended time than even the Blue Palo during the spring.

When ready to plant, select a permanent planting site with full sun and well-draining soil during the growing season. Dig a hole several times larger than the pot where the palo verde is growing. Remove the tree from the pot and inspect the root system. If the roots are tangled at the ends, gently tease them with your hands. Place the tree into the hole, and add more soil to the bottom if needed. Ensure the tree is at the same height above the dirt as it was when it was still in the pot. After planting, give the tree water immediately.

Palo verde trees grow excellently in well-draining soil; sandy soils are the best. Plant a palo verde tree with plenty of room for branches to spread outward; these trees can grow as wide as they do tall. Tolerant of intense sunlight, heat, and even dry soils, the palo verde tree is a good choice for gardens needing shade and pretty springtime flowers. Young trees only require monthly water during winter and only occasional water during extended periods of dry weather. However, if it gets watered every couple of weeks, the tree holds its foliage longer and grows faster.

Palo Verde trees are resilient and not known for many diseases; when they do occur, it is usually a fungal or insect infection. Look for signs of slime flux, hard scales, witches broom, and palo verde root borer. If found, call an arborist immediately to solve these issues. An arborist can diagnose and solve the problem quickly before it becomes a life-threatening, possibly spreadable issue for your trees.

Now that you are ready to add this fantastic tree to your yard give your arborist a call to get started. An arborist can help you pick the ideal spot for you and the tree and ensure the soil in that area will support the tree. He can also provide you with all the information you need to care for this beautiful tree.


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