Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Jerusalem Thorn, Palo Verde, Retama, Horse Bean, Lluvia de Oro
Parkinsonia aculeata

Family: Caesalpiniaceae (ses-al-pin-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Parkinsonia (PAR-kin-son-EE-a) (Info)
Species: aculeata (ah-kew-lee-AY-tuh) (Info)

Synonym:Cercidium torreyanum

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

17 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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By weeds
Thumbnail #1 of Parkinsonia aculeata by weeds

By weeds
Thumbnail #2 of Parkinsonia aculeata by weeds

By htop
Thumbnail #3 of Parkinsonia aculeata by htop

By htop
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By Jeff_Beck
Thumbnail #5 of Parkinsonia aculeata by Jeff_Beck

By Jeff_Beck
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By palmbob
Thumbnail #7 of Parkinsonia aculeata by palmbob

There are a total of 46 photos.
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5 positives
3 neutrals
3 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive digforrestdig On Jun 18, 2014, digforrestdig from West Palm Beach, FL wrote:

It hasn't been at all messy yet?? I have it planted about 4 feet from a Pineland Acacia. As land is a priority in coastal Palm Beach County. If they grow together it should look interesting. I bought it rather nicely priced and way larger than most starts at the Palm Beach State College the Eissey Campus. They always have great deals, so if you live anywhere near Palm Beach Gardens you should stop by!! Or make a day of it if you need a lot of plants, it will be worth the drive!!

Neutral screenfx On Sep 3, 2011, screenfx from Catalina Foothills, AZ wrote:

I've been looking into using this plants stems for basket making but want to make sure it is non-toxic. Any info on this would be appreciated.

Neutral RudeBoy On Jul 16, 2010, RudeBoy wrote:

I have chosen to stay neutral, since I have just planted my Jerusalem thorn yesterday. I rescued the 4' tree from an area that was getting ready to be paved for a new road. I have transplanted the tree in my backyard away from traffic but can be seen from the bay window or patio. It will look cool, when it starts to grow since it is place next to a dry river bed that leads to my 3,000 sq ft pond. I see it requires a lot of maintenance, but thats OK since I enjoy the pleasure of doing yard work. Living in Maricopa, AZ it's best to keep landscape as if it would be in the wild.

Negative chuck7701 On Feb 27, 2009, chuck7701 from McKinney, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Some may consider these nice in your yard, but I consider them to be an invasive and nuisance species. In the countryside they grow and spread rapidly by seed, are terrible to deal with. A fast grower with very sharp thorns. Also very messy, constantly sheds something. Not recommended.

They have little aesthetic value in my opinion, and zero agricultural value. Will quickly take over an area once an established plant drops seed, and forms thickets. We have to continually shred or spray to kill them in the pastures and around stock tanks to attempt to control them. Will grow in dry or wet soil.

Positive kdaustin On Sep 13, 2008, kdaustin from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Very pretty in or out of bloom with bright green wispy foliage. The flowers are a bright yellow and add great color in the hottest part of summer. No or very little water once established in my area of the country. Yes its thorny, though the mature trunk is not and if limbed up and carefully placed its no big deal, mine is about 4' away from a path, and noone has gotten stuck yet. Messy? I don't think so but thats relative. I have people tell me their oaks, elms, whatever are messy all the time at work. Not used a lot in my area, even though it grows wild here, however I have people bring in pieces all of the time to identify because they find it so attractive.

Positive frostweed On May 24, 2007, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Jerusalem Thorn, Palo Verde, Retama, Horse Bean, Lluvia de Oro Parkinsonia aculeata is native to Texas and other States.

Neutral Xenomorf On Jun 11, 2004, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

A comparison between the flowers of five Palo Trees
--The Mexican Palo Verde (Parkinsonia aculeata), the upper petal starts out with red dots that eventually grow bigger and turn the entire top petal to red.
--The Palo Brea (Parkinsonia praecox), the upper petal has smaller & fewer red dots than the Mexican Palo Verde (P. aculeata) that don't grow bigger.
--The Blue Palo Verde (Parkinsonia florida), the upper petal is always a solid yellow just like the other four petals.
--The Little Leaf Palo Verde (parkinsonia microphylla), the upper petal is solid, all white, and the remaining petals are yellow.
--The Palo Brasil (Haematoxylum brasiletto), has flowers similar to Parkinsonia sp., and the top yellow petal has red dendritic streaks.

Negative cosmophonic12 On Jan 26, 2004, cosmophonic12 wrote:

Fast growing tree, messy and do not recommended. Not appreciated here in Phoenix

Positive TerriFlorida On Nov 8, 2003, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:

In 1991 at a friend's newly purchased house, I rescued what I later learned was Jerusalem thorn. Some not so smart person had planted it a foot from the foundation, in full shade. It was a 6' stick of thorns, with a little ruff of leaves at the top! My friend is no gardener, so I took it home, CAREFULLY!

I planted it in full sun, on a mound of dirt. Well, 'dirt,' that's kindly put. Florida's native soil is generally nearly pure sand in many places. Nevertheless, this tough stick grew, and leafed, and flowered, and grew, and flowered again... I was very sad to leave it when we moved 40 miles away, but there was no way any of us was going to deal with moving this now very bonsai-ish 15' x 15' tree.

This is definitely a tree for a specific kind of site. You want to give it full sun, and really well drained not great soil. You want to give it room, for your own safety. Those thorns are serious. And you want to put it where it can be seen, because when it's in bloom, it is really beautiful. Down here it blooms twice a year -- rare in trees. I guess you don't want to put it near where you want neatness. I never noticed its messiness, but I put it where that didn't matter. That was just good luck, mind you. I knew nothing about it when I planted it other than it was going to be thorny.

Positive Greenknee On Sep 3, 2003, Greenknee from Chantilly, VA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This is one of the signature plants of the sonoran desert - Arizona, Mexico and small parts of California. It responds to moisture by growing a set of leaves when ever moisture levels are high enough. The green trunk and branches take care of photosynthesis the rest of the time! Lives alongside ocotillo, boojum trees, cholla cactus, etc, though maybe not quite as tough as they are.

Negative KactusKathi On Aug 1, 2003, KactusKathi from Goodyear, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

I love the green trunk and the wispy leaves, but it drops them all year long! I am constantly cleaning up after this tree, bags and bags of trash!


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Goodyear, Arizona
Maricopa, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports)
Tucson, Arizona (2 reports)
Clovis, California
Manhattan Beach, California
Menifee, California
Ontario, California
Poway, California
San Leandro, California
Tulare, California
Wildomar, California
Dunnellon, Florida
Fort Pierce, Florida
Green Cove Springs, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (2 reports)
Ocala, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Riverview, Florida
Umatilla, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Slaughter, Louisiana
Natchez, Mississippi
Roswell, New Mexico
Charleston, South Carolina
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas (3 reports)
Brownsville, Texas
Kendalia, Texas
La Vernia, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (3 reports)
Santa Fe, Texas

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