Desert Trees for Arizona by Julie Plath
- Written by Julie and Steve Plath
Sweet Acacia - Acacia smallii
Sweet Acacia lives up to its' name in the lovely fragrance of its pale yellow fluff-ball blooms. It is the earliest Acacia to bloom starting in Feb. and blooms a long time in the cool winter-spring temps.
Blue Palo Verde - Cercidium floridum
The Palo Verdes and clan are all very sculptural with muscled green bark (this one gets corky with time), and jigsaw puzzle branching. This desert legume has tiny, pinnate leaves that are bluish green until at full bloom in the spring it is buried in yellow flowers.
Desert Willow - Chilopsis linearis
A must-have for the desert, this native tree ranges in flower color from near white to pink to purple, including bicolored trumpets. Not a true willow, it is durable and can become quite large. It loves the heat and starts flowering when the heat kicks in and continues all summer long!
Narrow Leaf Gimlet - Eucalyptus spathulata
When first moving to the Phoenix area these small, fine-textured Euc's caught my eye. They were lining a neighborhood park. Smoothly muscled golden bark twists up to support clouds of small grey-green, linear leaves. It makes me think of something in an African savannah. Very striking.
Ceder Elm - Ulmus crassifolia
An underutilized, small elm, it gets its' name for from cat's-tongue, roughened small green leaves. Twigs are winged giving it a coarse winter look; older bark is a furrowed grey. It is a refined non-desert looking tough tree.
Chaste Tree - Vitex agnus-castus
Often treated as a shrub this is a lovely, refined tree for inland, upland, and desert climates. Mostly multi-trunked, it is broader than tall and has delicate, palmately-compound leaves. It covers itself with lavender-purple spikes of grape-koolaid, fragrant flowers loved by butterflies all summer long. What's not to love?