Sunday, November 2, 2008

Palo Brea

Cercidium praecox



This relative of the Palo Verde tree is really not recommended for our USDA Zone 9b, but it is very popular in the Phoenix area for areas that take a smaller tree. It does well in full and reflected sun and takes little to no supplemental water once established. I thought this was the perfect location for this Palo Brea when I planted it two years ago because it has a southwest exposure and a lot of reflected sun from the adjacent driveway to my husband's shop. It will eventually provide filtered shade for a large glass block window and a rose bed.



 The Palo Brea can reach 40 ft. high, but that is rare in this climate. More than likely it will reach a maximum of 25 ft. with a 20 ft. spread over many years. The tree has the typical Cercidium green trunk, with arching branches. The downside of this tree is that the branches are covered with thorns, and more than once, I've ducked under the branches while taking a shortcut to the shop and suffered the consequences with numerous scratches. Not only does it scratch, the branches seem grab you and it's hard to extricate yourself without additional scratches! I'm slowly raising the canopy by pruning the lower branches. Since end pruning is not good, the long arching branches pose a danger until the tree is quite a bit taller.

 
I've always loved the shape of this Cercidium species. The mature trees are especially attractive in spring when bright yellow flowers cover each branch from tip to base, which serves to emphasize the arching growth habit.
Unlike the other trees in my landscape that started out as 24-inch boxed trees, this one was in a 15-gallon container, so it is still small, even after two years. I did not need to stake it at all, and it has withstood many summer monsoon windstorms. One of the reasons our region is not considered the optimum climate for this tree is that it is less hardy than the other Palo Verde species, and we occasionally have frost. It is hardy to 22°F., a temperature we very rarely see, even in our coldest winters. This tree was just getting established when we had the freak freeze a couple of years ago where our temperature got down to 18°F. There was only some very minor frost burn to the newer leaves, so I'm not worried about it at all.

10 comments:

Dee said...

It is a beautiful little tree, thorns and all! It seems thorns grow out of the ground in my yard lately- everywhere I step my rubber crocs end up full of those little goat-head thorns.

Claude said...

I did a web search, and I must say that I do like the form of this tree when it matures. Of course, I have absolutely no hope of growing it here... you'd asked a few questions on my blog, I have answered your comments. Just thought I'd let you know...

sisah said...

Your little tree has really a wonderful shape, I have neither seen one nore heard of this species before.I couldn´t even find a german name for it, seems to be very rare and exotic. I am curiuos to see some photos of it blossoming .
Viele Grüße
Sisah

beckie said...

Aiyana, looks like a perfect spot to me. And I am sure the eventual flitered shade will be much appreciated. I wish you would take a picture of it next spring when it blooms-sound beautiful. Our crab apples bloom like that, from the very tip of the branch all the way back to the trunk. with something this pretty, it always seems there is a 'but'. Once you get it trimmed the thorns shouldn't be as much of a problem. Thanks for sharing.

Lythrum said...

What an interesting tree. The thorny leaves remind me of the locust trees that grew in my moms yard. It definately made going barefoot outside out of the question. Looks like yours is doing good. :)

Julie said...

Oh, those wispy branches are so pretty!!!

kate smudges said...

This is an attractive tree - I like the arching branches. Ihope you take a picture of it when it is in bloom!

WiseAcre said...

Hope I'm around to see it full grown.

Right now it reminds me of a weeping Russian Pea (or olive depending who you talk to)that I planted this season. They're nothing alike except in our photos

chigiy at Gardeners Anonymous said...

I like the shape of the tree, so your lower branch pruning is useful and pleasing to the eye.

Kylee said...

What a graceful tree!