Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi

Q: What is this tree? It is planted outside my bank and I have never seen anything like it. It has yellow flowers and tiny thorns. I really want one for my yard

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Jerusalem-Thorn tree

Jerusalem-Thorn tree

A:  I believe it is a Jerusalem-Thorn tree, Parkinsonia aculeata.  It is a small, deciduous landscape tree with delicate, tiny leaves.  At maturity it has been known to grow 15-29 feet tall and spread about 20-25 feet.  Jerusalem-Thorn thrives in full sun, tolerates most any type of soil; it is highly drought and salt tolerant. In spite of its rapid growth rate, it has strong wood, withstanding harsh winds with ease due to the open growth habit. However, the trees have a short life span, commonly living only 15 to 20 years. Poor drainage may account for short life on many sites, so locate it accordingly in areas where soil is never wet for more than an hour or two. The bark is thin and easily injured and the tree appears to compartmentalize decay poorly – so keep the weed-eaters as far away as possible. Locate the tree properly and design the site to minimize trunk injury which generally requires keeping lawn grass far away from the base of the tree. You may have some difficulty locating the tree if you want to plant one in your yard but a reputable nursery should be able to find you a suitable specimen. For more complete information check out the University of Florida publication:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st431

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