Parkinsonia microphyllum
Common name: 
Littleleaf Palo Verde
Foothill Palo Verde
Yellow Palo Verde
PAR-kin-son-EE-a mi-krow-FIE-lum
Cercidium microphyllum
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Drought-deciduous shrub or small tree, slow-growing, to 25 ft (7.6 m) tall, about half or more wide, irregular shape, often multi-stemmed and low branched, spiny, ascending and spreading branches, trunk may reach 0.3 m in diameter, bark is smooth, thin, greenish and photosynthetic.  Leaves alternate, pinnately compound (even), 3-6.5 cm long; leaflets minute, yellow-green, in pairs (leafless most of the year).  Flowers usually cream-white, small (about 12 mm), in 3 cm long clusters.  Fruits 4-8 cm long flat pods, often ending in a spine, 1-5 seeds (edible when young and green), constrictions between the seeds.
  • Sun, well-drained soil, little or no additional water required after establishment, although summer irrigation increases growth rate and leaf retention.  May be afflicted with root borers and mistletoe.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 8b     Native range through central and southwestern Arizona, a few populations in southeastern California, and extending southward through Sonora and Baja California, Mexico.  Most often found on rocky slopes of the foothills of desert mountains.
  • Parkinsonia microphyllum is now considered the accepted name and Cercidium microphyllum a synonym.
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, in habitat

    plant habit, in habitat

  • base of tree with an observer

    base of tree with an observer

  • plant habit, in habitat

    plant habit, in habitat

  • plant habit

    plant habit

  • branches


  • branches and leaves

    branches and leaves

  • expanding leaves and thorn

    expanding leaves and thorn

  • leaves


  • fruit


  • trunk, bark

    trunk, bark

  • plant with desert mistletoe, a hemi-parasitic plant

    plant with desert mistletoe, a hemi-parasitic plant