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Top 5 Trees in Arizona

Are you thinking about setting up a new landscape in your yard or improving on the landscape you already have? No matter your reason for planting, here are five great trees to plant in Arizona. Chosen for their beautiful lush flowers, ease of maintenance, and low water consumption, these trees are staples for any Arizona landscaping project.

Palo Verde

The palo verde is the first Arizona palo verde to bloom in spring. Flowers begin in late March, with peak flowering in mid-April. Bright yellow flowers cover the entire tree during the blooming season. The palo verde tree is distinguishable by its blue-green bark and brilliant yellow flowers. It can grow 25 feet tall with a 25-foot spread. Due to its green color, it looks evergreen from a distance. The palo verde tree is naturally multi-trunked with a low-hanging canopy. It is known for its fantastic mid-spring flower display and is native to Southern Arizona.

Plant palo verde trees in full or partial sun and soil with good drainage. Young trees require water weekly in the summer and monthly in winter. Being desert trees, once established, they can survive on rainfall alone. If you water Palo verde trees, it will increase their growth rate, size, and canopy density.


Mesquites belong to an Arizona-desert-adapted family of trees called the legume.

Mesquites have evolved several adaptations from crown to root tips, and mesquites have evolved several adaptations to ensure survival in Arizona environments. Their thorns are sharply pointed and onerous, challenging browsing by desert herbivores. Their small and wax-coated leaves minimize transpiration. During drought, the mesquites may shed their leaves to conserve moisture. Most notably, mesquites are host to nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These bacteria help enrich otherwise impoverished desert soils; this helps other plants to grow in the harsh Arizona soil.

They bear flowers with five petals and produce large seedpods that serve as animal food sources. The three species of mesquite, which are honey mesquite, velvet mesquite, and screwbean mesquite, have a lot in common. They usually grow up to 10 to 15 feet in height. However, the honey and velvet mesquites may reach 30 to 60 feet in healthy environments. They may be single or multiple-trunked, with each plant assuming its distinctive curved or twisted shape – and have long thorns on their smaller branches. Mesquites shed their leaves in the winter. However, they will bloom again from spring into summer, bearing tiny, pale green or yellowish flowers, which lure numerous insects.


The long-lived Ironwood tree provides tons of benefits to the area around them. They provide shelter and nutrients to many other plants, animals, and insects by creating a microclimate underneath their canopy. The flowers bloom in late April-May. Seed pods grow in June-July. Ironwood flowers and fruit may occur in most years but are abundant only four years per decade. Native bees are commonly attracted to flowers. After pollination, ironwoods produce slightly curved, knobby pods containing up to eight shiny dark brown hard-shelled seeds. These are essential food sources for native fauna in early summer.

Ironwood is a drought-deciduous tree; it will shed its leaves during a drought to conserve water and energy. As a result, it grows moderately fast under normal conditions and requires very little water.


Trees are a glorious addition to any landscape. Planting in a sunny area of the yard will supply plenty of shade for those hot summer days. You will look forward to the fragrant blossoms that appear almost out of nowhere in June.

This fast-growing deciduous tree reaches around 50 feet high with a 30 to 40-foot spread. The mesquite's bark is reddish-brown but matures to a grayish-brown and becomes thick and deeply furrowed with age.

The heartwood is also highly durable and sought after as fuel and a crafting resource. The compound leaves have oval-shaped leaflets, are 2-4 inches long, bright green, somewhat leathery, and alternate. The small white or yellow flowers grow in clusters 2 to 4 inches long and cover most of the tree in full bloom. The leaves resemble a feather, with 15 to 23 leaflets on each stem.

The Sissoo tree is a quick-growing tree that will tolerate various soils. However, remember that its roots regularly produce sprouts and should not be planted close to any sidewalks or buildings. The sprouts can lift cement or damage a structure's foundations.

Desert Willow

Desert willow trees come in wide varieties and are native to the southwest U.S. and northern Mexico. Typically smaller, deciduous tree has bright green leaves and colorful, trumpet-shaped flowers.

During the winter, desert willows shed their leaves for up to six months. In summer, however, few trees produce as many vibrant flowers as a desert willow. Flowers range from white to purple, pale pink, and even lavender flowers are common. In addition, desert willow trees come in various species and types with remarkable differences in color, leaf form, and growth characteristics.

Desert willows are very easy to maintain; choose a good spot to plant in a warm sunny area, and then keep up with pruning as needed; this is as close to being self-sufficient as possible. Desert willows require such little care that it's almost immortal; there are examples of desert willow trees cut to the base that have grown sprouts and returned quickly. But, of course, the pruning for the form you choose for your desert willow is entirely up to you.

Plant desert willow trees in full sun or mostly sunny areas. It will tolerate most soils, but they do need to drain well. Water desert willow trees intensely every five to seven days for the first year. After that, water an established desert willow every two weeks when it gets hot and once a month in the winter.

Hopefully, this short list has provided insight into what tree you think would look best in your yard. Whether you have decided on the tree you want or still have questions, an arborist can help. A trained arborist can help you select not just the best tree for your yard but also the best place in your yard to plant it. Hiring an arborist will ensure your yard looks how you always envisioned it. An arborist can also consider shade, soil, and maintenance requirements while helping you decide on the perfect tree.


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