Steve Plath's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Desert Trees.
Twisted Acacia - Acacia schaffneri
For interest of trunk and branches this tree is hard to beat. As the name implies the woody structure twists which along with the tightly held leaves give it an octopus-type look. For some reason this tree can be hard to find at times but well worth the look.
Desert Ironwood - Olneya tesota
Of all the desert trees the Ironwood has truly captured my heart. The dusty pink color of the sweet-pea shaped flowers in late spring is unique amongst the native desert trees. The over all texture and colors of the trunk and leaves give this tree a very rugged look. The slowest growing native tree it can be sped up a little with careful deep irrigation. It is a very thorny tree but I love it all the same.
Palo Verde - Cercidium praecox
This is the most handsome of the Palo Verdes in my opinion and is an outstanding compliment to various home architectural styles in the southwest. It has a broad canopy of intricate branches and a milky green trunk that is distinctive. It's not the hardiest Palo Verde to cold but is at home in the lower desert areas.
Palo Blanco - Acacia willardiana
Recommended for the low desert and mildest areas of the southwest the weeping habit of the branches and leaves dance delightfully in the wind. The pealing bark showing off the white underlayers gives this plant it's Spanish name. This isn't a large tree and should be planted as a specimen near a wall or building to show off the delicate texture.
Texas Ebony - Pithecelobium flexicaule
The zig-zag habit of the branches and the dark green leaves along with the relatively dense shade cast by the foliage make this a favorite. This can be a relatively slow growing tree so I recommend purchasing as large of a specimen as you can afford. Nevertheless even if planting out a 5 or 15 gallon container this tree is worth the wait.
Screwbean Mesquite - Prosopis pubescens
This tree has the most shaggy bark of any desert tree I've grown. The Screwbean Mesquite is an ideal native tree to naturalize in disturbed areas or to use in a native garden. The corkscrew bean clusters are an added feature that kids find fastenating. This can be another tree that's challenging to find.