Monday, May 11, 2009

Palo Verde

With the daily highs at or over 100F, the desert flower season is quickly drawing to a close. You can still spot some cacti in bloom, among them the Saguaros that are about the last to blossom. So you might yet see more images here.

I had to run in to work yesterday and this desert garden in front of The Optical Sciences Center (here looking towards the main library) caught my eye. The palo verde (pal-oh ver-day) trees (the Arizona State Tree), still sported some flowers, but what caught my eye were the "snowdrifts" of the yellow petals collected below. Palo verde (spanish for green stick) are spectacular native plants when they are ablaze with their flowers in mid-spring and can bloom again after the summer rains.

The plants are unusual in that they have chlorophyll in their branches and trunks (accounting for the green color), thus can generate energy via photosynthesis, even in times of drought when the tree will shed most of it's leaves. In the closeup, even now you can see most of the small leaves have been shed, and will generate new leaves during the summer rains in July and August. There are at least 3 species that live in the Tucson area - the foothills, blue and mexican varieties are all common. I believe these are foothills palo verdes.

I've been looking for some spectacular palo verde shots this spring, but the lack of springtime rain has cut back some on the displays. But I thought I would show some our tree blossoms to keep pace with all the flowering trees we saw in the Midwest last weekend!

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