Category: Trees (Page 4 of 17)

Seed of the Week: Blue Palo Verde

Our mystery seeds from last week were from a blue palo verde, Parkinsonia florida (previously Cercidium floridum).

The blue palo verde is unique to the Southwest and is the Arizona State Tree.

Palo verdes are small trees named for their green trunk and branches.

Why green? The top layer of the trunk and branches contains chlorophyll, which allow the tree to continue to make food via photosynthesis even if it doesn’t have leaves.

A close up of the trunk…

Blue palo verdes do have leaves at certain times of the year, but they tend to be small and fall off when the plant is under water stress.

Often the trees are covered with brilliant yellow blossoms in the spring…

…which produce these seed pods full of seeds.

In addition to the blue palo verde, several other species of palo verdes grow in Arizona, including the foothills palo verde, Parkinsonia microphylla and the Mexican palo verde, Parkinsonia aculeata.

The flowers of the Mexican palo verde are unusual because the top petal changes color with age, until it is a deep reddish orange.

Firefly Forest has more photographs and facts about Mexican palo verdes, blue palo verdes, and foothills palo verde.

Desert Harvesters has information about how to identify blue and foothills palo verde trees, plus tips for harvesting the pods

Seed of the Week: Alligator Juniper

Our mystery “seeds” showcased last week were from an alligator juniper, Juniperus deppeana.

Technically these are not the seeds, but berry-like cones that contain the seeds. Notice the white, waxy coating which is a common characteristic.

Alligator junipers are named for their distinctive bark.

Once you’ve seen the bark that forms rectangular blocks, it is pretty easy to identify again. People say it looks like alligator skin.

Here’s another example. There are different subspecies throughout the range that have variations in growing shape and cone size.

It has the typical scale-like leaves of a juniper (Photograph from Wikimedia).

Alligator junipers are generally small, but in this photograph by Tom Check (from Wikimedia) you can see that older alligator junipers can be magnificent trees.

Have you ever seen an alligator juniper? Where did you see it?

Seed of the Week: Cherries

Our mystery seeds from last week were the pits, the cherry pits that is. You can still see a bit of the red fruit attached to this one (the other pits were from a yellow-fleshed variety.

A number of plants in the genus Prunus are called cherries, but the two used commercially are Prunus avium, called sweet cherry, and Prunus cerasus, the sour cherry. The edible ones are thought to have come from western Asia originally, although they have been cultivated and spread throughout much of the world.

Cherries grow on small trees. The trees blossom in the spring, and produce fruit from late spring to summer, depending on the variety and where it is grown.

Although the fruit is good to eat, the pits and other parts of the plants may be toxic. The cherry plant contains varying amounts of cyanogenic glycoside, which is converted to cyanide when eaten.

What the pits are good for, however, are potentially growing new trees. This video has some suggestions how to do it:

Now I’m thinking about makingĀ  a cherry cobbler or a cherry pie.

What is your favorite way to eat cherries?

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