Cercidium floridum, Palo Verde, is a small deciduous
tree that can rarely get to 30', commonly 15-20 ft. Palo Verde's yellow flowers appear
in March-May to liven up its green bark. The Palo Verde is
bare most of the year, providing nesting habitat for the birds, and
wispy cover for people.
Native to the deserts of California
and Arizona, Palo Verde grows in the desert hills up to abut 4000 feet
in elevation and done well in the inner Los Angeles basin and the San Joaquin Valley. This little tree needs full sun, good drainage (if rainfall is
higher than 10 inches needs perfect drainage, meaning water should drain from a shovel hole in less than a minute, is very drought
tolerant (after a year or so). You can spritz it to simulate a summer shower (More water may kill it).
Cold hardy to somewhere about 10 degrees F., but as a desert 10 degrees F. In sustained cold, it will not tolerate freezing for longer
than a few hours. We've had some killed in containers at 15
degrees F., others tolerant to 10 degrees F. Short bursts of dry
cold is ok; long wet cold is not.
Cercidium floridum, Palo Verde has the funny trait of forming water-repellent soils under
it. By not allowing the water to stay under it and shedding the water
out to its drip line it can out-compete even the annuals. That is why
you find few plants under Cercidium; mostly only the ones that are
mycorrhizally linked to the Cercidium.
Desert wash plants of the Creosote woodland, Encelia frutescens, Button Brittlebush, Encelia farinosa, Brittlebush and Hyptis emoryi, Desert Lavender.
We planted one at the Oil Museum in Taft in 1981, and by 1998 it had grown
into a stunning 25 foot specimen with a main trunk and beautiful form.
Remove all the stress of the desert, do not water after first
year, (except light spritzing in summer; that is, do not water the soil, just lightly water the tree) and these can become wonderful small trees.
In the Taft project I planted the tree in awful soil, 45 minutes to break out a cup sized hole. I filled with water and came back after a couple of weeks, water was still in hole. There was a not nice player involved that turned the watering off of the project a week or so after the plants were planted. Most of the planting lived on that one week of water in spring. Native plants are amazing.
Seeds may be ground into edible meal but 'edible' applies if you're
starving and do not mind intestinal distress.
Syn: Parkinsonia florida.
Cercidium floridum tolerates sand.
Cercidium floridum is great for a bird garden.
Foliage of Cercidium floridum has color green and is deciduous.
Flower of Cercidium floridum has color yellow.
Fruit of Cercidium floridum is edible.