Palo Verde (Parkinsonia microphylla)
Palo Verde is one of the most common trees of the Sonoran Desert and is found throughout southern Arizona and southeastern California. Starting in April, the Palo Verde produces a brite yellow flower that stands in contrast to it’s characteristic green trunk and branches. In late spring it is common to see the Palo Verde covered in yellow blossoms with a blanket of yellow at it’s base from dropped flowers. It is this fact that makes the Palo Verde a bit of an allergy enigma.
As a general principle, plants that produce conspicuous and fragrant flowers do so to attract insects such as bees to distribute their pollen. In addition, the pollen is typically heavy and sticky so that it sticks to the insects rather than being wasted blowing in the wind. Wind pollenated plans on the other hand produce copious amounts of light pollen that easily catches a ride in a breeze, and often finds it’s way to the nose and eyes of allergy sufferers. Palo Verde, although an insect pollenated tree, can cause allergy problems just because of the huge volume of flowers that fall to ground, dry, and then picked up by the wind