If you hike at Pinnacle Peak Park, you will notice many varieties of trees and plants that are native to Arizona. One of the most common is the Foothill Palo Verde, which also happens to be the state tree of Arizona. It shares this honor with the Blue Palo Verde tree as well, as the two are difficult to distinguish between the two.
Both trees have a number of interesting characteristics. Palo Verde is the Spanish term for “green stick”. The name indicates that these trees can use chlorophyll in their bark to photosynthesize and produce sugar. So if you were to taste the leaves (we don’t recommend that you do, these trees have large thorns!) they would taste like sugar. These leaves drop twice a year and if there is a prolonged drought, trees may drop branches to conserve water.
A few other fun facts about these trees are that the seeds they produce were a great food source for the Hohokam people. They used to ground the seeds in mortars to make flour. Today, if you see a Palo Verde seed pod, you can blanche them and eat them raw. There is even a bug named after the Palo Verde tree which are 3 inches long, have wings and can fly. The females lay their eggs at the root of the tree in the summer months and the larvae chew on the tissue of the tree until they transform into an adult beetle. The Palo Verde tree can live for up to 200 years.
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