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Parkinsonia microphylla

Higher Taxonomy
Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)View DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual to tree. Leaf: generally alternate, generally compound, generally stipuled, generally entire, pinnately veined Inflorescence: generally raceme, spike, umbel or head; or flowers 1--few in axils. Flower: generally bisexual, generally bilateral; hypanthium 0 or flat to tubular; sepals generally 5, generally fused; petals generally 5, free, fused, or lower 2 +- united into keel (see 3, Key to Groups, for banner, wings); stamens 10 or many (or [1], 5, 6, 7, 9), free or fused or 10 with 9 filaments at least partly fused, 1 (uppermost) free; pistil 1, ovary superior, generally 1-chambered, ovules 1--many, style, stigma 1. Fruit: legume, including a stalk-like base (above receptacle) or not. Seed: 1--many, often +- reniform, generally hard, smooth.
Genera In Family: +- 730 genera, 19400 species: worldwide; with grasses, requisite in agriculture, most natural ecosystems. Many cultivated, most importantly Arachis, peanut; Glycine, soybean; Phaseolus, beans; Medicago, alfalfa; Trifolium, clovers; many orns. Note: Unless stated otherwise, fruit length including stalk-like base, number of 2° leaflets is per 1° leaflet. Upper suture of fruit adaxial, lower abaxial. Anthyllis vulneraria L. evidently a waif, a contaminant of legume seed from Europe. Laburnum anagyroides Medik., collected on Mount St. Helena in 1987, may be naturalized. Ceratonia siliqua L., carob tree (Group 2), differs from Gleditsia triacanthos L. in having evergreen (vs deciduous) leaves that are 1-pinnate (vs 1-pinnate on spurs on old stems, 2-pinnate on new stems) with 2--5(8) (vs 7--17) 1° leaflets, commonly cultivated, now naturalized in southern California. Aeschynomene rudis Benth. , Halimodendron halodendron (Pall.) Voss (possibly extirpated), Lens culinaris Medik. are agricultural weeds. Caragana arborescens Lam. only cult. Ononis alopecuroides L. , Sphaerophysa salsula (Pall.) DC. all evidently extirpated. Cercidium moved to Parkinsonia; Chamaecytisus to Cytisus; Psoralidium lanceolatum to Ladeania.
eFlora Treatment Author: Martin F. Wojciechowski, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Martin F. Wojciechowski, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: ParkinsoniaView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: PALO VERDE
Habit: Tree, shrub, with stipular spines at nodes or thorns in leaf axis (see leaf scars) or main leaf axis a strong spine. Stem: +- zigzag; bark smooth, green. Leaf: alternate or in clusters of 1--6 in spine axils, generally even-2-pinnate, sometimes appearing 1-pinnate, main axis flat, leaflets alternate, falling early or not; 1° leaflets 2--6; 2° leaflets 4--many. Inflorescence: raceme, axillary, generally < 7-flowered. Flower: +- bilateral; sepals +- free, alike, generally reflexed; petals +- equal, generally yellow or cream-white; stamens 10, yellow to orange, free, exserted. Fruit: indehiscent to partly late-dehiscent, generally flat, oblong, +- inflated, narrowed between seeds or not. Seed: 1--several.
Species In Genus: 11--12 species, 2 named hybrids: America, southern United States to Argentina, Africa; cultivated. Etymology: (J. Parkinson, London, apothecary, author, 1567--1650) Note: Haston et al., Hawkins support treatment of Cercidium and Parkinsonia, both recognized in TJM (1993), as single, monophyletic genus.
Unabridged Note: Since S. Watson (1870s), Cercidium and Parkinsonia have variously been treated as 1 or 2 genera; Carter 1974 and McClintock in TJM (1993) recognized both genera but work of Hawkins 1996 (Ph.D. Dissertation, Univ. Oxford, UK) and Haston et al. 2005 (Amer J Bot 92:1359--1371) support treatment as 1 monophyletic group.
Reference: Haston et al. 2005 Amer J Bot 92:1359--1371; Hawkins 1996 Ph.D. Dissertation, Univ Oxford, UK
Unabridged Reference: Carter 1974 Proc Calif Acad Sci 40(2):17--57; Haston et al. 2005 Amer J Bot 92:1359--1371; Hawkins 1996 Ph.D. Dissertation, Univ of Oxford, UK
Parkinsonia microphylla Torr.
Habit: Shrub, small tree 3--4(9) m, with thorn-tipped branches; branches generally ascending or spreading, broom-like, hairy. Leaf: sessile, yellow-green; 1° leaflets 1 pair, axis 2--4 cm, generally early-deciduous; 2° leaflets 8--16, 1--5 mm. Flower: corolla 12--14 mm, banner < 10 mm, widely ovate, generally cream-white. Fruit: late dehiscent, < 11 cm, brown, narrowed between seeds; tip beak-like, generally ending in spine.
Ecology: Rock slopes; Elevation: +- 600 m. Bioregional Distribution: D; Distribution Outside California: to Arizona, northwestern Mexico. Flowering Time: Apr--May (generally 2 weeks after Parkinsonia florida) Note: Branches used as livestock feed; seeds edible. Hybrids with Parkinsonia florida reported [Jones et al. 1998 Madroño 45:110--118].
Synonyms: Cercidium microphyllum (Torr.) Rose & I.M. Johnst.
Jepson eFlora Author: Martin F. Wojciechowski
Reference: Haston et al. 2005 Amer J Bot 92:1359--1371; Hawkins 1996 Ph.D. Dissertation, Univ Oxford, UK
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

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Botanical illustration including Parkinsonia microphylla

botanical illustration including Parkinsonia microphylla


Citation for this treatment: Martin F. Wojciechowski 2012, Parkinsonia microphylla, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 27, 2022.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2022, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 27, 2022.

Parkinsonia microphylla
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse
Parkinsonia microphylla
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse
Parkinsonia microphylla
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse
Parkinsonia microphylla
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© 2010 James M. Andre
Parkinsonia microphylla
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse
Parkinsonia microphylla
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse

More photos of Parkinsonia microphylla in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Parkinsonia microphylla:
1. You can change the display of the base map layer control box in the upper right-hand corner.
2. County and Jepson Region polygons can be turned off and on using the check boxes.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).