Parkinsonia aculeata

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Parkinsonia aculeata
Park acul.jpg
Photo by Dennis Girard, Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae ⁄ Leguminosae
Genus: Parkinsonia
Species: P. aculeata
Binomial name
Parkinsonia aculeata
Park acul dist.jpg
Natural range of Parkinsonia aculeata from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Jerusalem thorn; Mexican Palo Verde

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: none.[1]

Varieties: none.[1]


P. aculeata is a thorny shrub with weakly papilionaceous flowers.[2] The leaflets are 1-5 mm long while the leaves are 2-pinnate and subsessile.[1]


It is a native to Mexico but has spread and become naturalized in Florida.[3]



Habitats include grasslands, open woodlands, rangelands, pastures, waste areas, disturbed sites, roadsides, and near creeks.[4] It is adapted to life in the desert, by modified transpiration techniques and producing food with photosynthetic tissue in the bark.[5] Soil types include sandy loam, sand, clay, and loam.[6][7]

If growing in an over-irrigated spot, P. aculeata is susceptible to powdery mildew and root rot.[6]


Flowers and fruits March through August.[7][8]

Seed dispersal

Seeds are dispersed by birds and other animals.[4]

Seed bank and germination

Seeds have a tegumentary dormancy which allows them to last a long time in seed banks until germination conditions are favorable.[9]


Parkinsonia aculeata has been observed at the Archbold Biological Station to host bees from the family Apidae such as Apis mellifera, plasterer bees from the family Colletidae such as Hylaeus confluens, and leafcutting bees from the family Megachilidae: Anthidiellum notatum rufomaculatum, A. perplexum, Anthidium maculifrons, Coelioxys germana, C. sayi, C. texana, Dianthidium floridiense, Dolichostelis louisae, Heriades leavitti, Megachile brevis pseudobrevis, M. exilis parexilis, M. frugalis, M. georgica, M. inimica, M. integra, M. mendica, M. petulans, M. policaris, M. rugifrons, M. texana, thread-waisted wasps from the family Sphecidae: Ectemnius rufipes ais, and wasps from the family Vespidae Polistes exclamans.[10] Additionally, P. aculeata has been observed with ground-nesting bees from the family Andrenidae such as Megandrena enceliae, bees from the family Apidae such as Anthophora sp., Bombus pensylvanicus, Centris sp., Ericrocis lata, Eucera angustifrons, Florilegus condignus, Gaesischia exul, Melissodes sp., Svastrides bauni and Xylocopa sp., leafcutting bees from the Megachilidae family such as Hoplitis biscutellae, Megachile sp., Osmia subfasciata, Stelis perpulchra and Trachusa larreae, bees from the Melittidae family such as Hesperapis laticeps, and scentless plant bugs such as Jadera haematoloma (family Rhopalidae).[11]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Weakley, A.S. 2015. Flora of the southern and mid-atlantic states. Working Draft of 21 May 2015. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. Radford, A. E., Ahles, H. E., & Bell, C. R. (1968). Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  3. [[1]] Pacific Horticulture. Accessed: February 17, 2016
  4. 4.0 4.1 [[2]] Accessed: February 16, 2016
  5. [[3]] Floridata. Accessed: February 16, 2016
  6. 6.0 6.1 [[4]] Accessed: February 16, 2016
  7. 7.0 7.1 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: October 2015. Collectors: Antonia Araiza, Robert Blaisdell, Kurt Blum, Ted Bradley, Richard Carter, Felipe Cisneros, J. Dwyer, Augustin Gamez, Robert K. Godfrey, James Henrickson, B.F. Meck, William R. Stimson, David W. Thompson, Edwin L. Tyson. States and Counties: Arizona: Maricopa. Florida: Dade, Leon, Pinellas. South Carolina: Beaufort. Texas: Live Oak, Victoria, Webb, Zapata. Countries: Costa Rica, Mexico. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  8. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 19 MAY 2021
  9. Agra, PFM, et al. "Methods for Overcoming Dormancy of Parkinsonia Aculeata L. Seeds."SEMINA-CIENCIAS AGRARIAS36.3 (2015): 1191-202.
  10. Deyrup, M.A. and N.D. 2015. Database of observations of Hymenoptera visitations to flowers of plants on Archbold Biological Station, Florida, USA.
  11. [5]