Palo Brea

(Parkinsonia praecox)

A close-up of the chalky green bark of the Palo Brea.

Palo Brea is one of two species of Parkinsonia in the gardens and can be distinguished by its green bark, which is much lighter and almost appears chalky compared to the other Parkinsonia, ‘Desert Museum.’  It is found only adjacent to the Center. On the west side of the Center, it shares a garden bed with Golden Barrel cactus, formally arranged in rows. It is mulched with a contrasting ground, a black lava stone called scoria.

Living up to its name, this “early bloomer” is usually the first tree to bloom in spring. It peaks mid-April and declines by the beginning of summer, unlike its cousin, the darker-barked ‘Desert Museum,’ which has a longer bloom season, stretching beyond the early summer months.

In spring, bright yellow blooms clustered close together create distinctive outlines on its branches. This species, as well as the ‘Desert Museum,’ are crowd-pleasers for humans and pollinators alike.

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