Honeybee And “Blue” Palo Verde
Palo Verdes are in bloom again. Well, one species is in bloom. There are two species of Palo Verde (in Spanish, the name means “green stick”) that grow wild in the Tucson area, the “Blue” Palo Verde and the “Foothills” Palo Verde. There’s a third species, the “Mexican” Palo Verde, which is grown commercially and which shows up in subdivisions and supermarket parking lots. Right now, the “Blue” Palo Verdes are putting on a spectacular display. The “Foothills” Palo Verdes should follow in a couple of weeks or so.
Palo Verdes of both species are known for the fact that during much of the year they are leafless or nearly so. However, the bark of their trunks and branches is heavily impregnated with chlorophyll so these trees can photosynthesize even when they are leafless. The tendency of these trees to drop their leaves is an adaptation to the very dry climate. Leafless trees utilize moisture more efficiently than those with leaves because leaves create a greater surface area for evaporation of moisture.
The two species of Palo Verde are similar in appearance. The differences are subtle. Both species are about the same size and shape, with the trees topping out at about 20 feet and being almost equal in diameter to their height. The “Blue” Palo Verde has slightly larger leaves than does its “Foothills” cousin. Also, its bark is slightly blueish green in color whereas the “Foothills” Palo Verde has yellowish green bark.
Both species are prolific bloomers. For a week or so each spring one of these trees in bloom will be covered with thousands of lemon yellow flowers. In certain light the trees can appear to be almost incandescent.
Honeybees love them. A Palo Verde in bloom can attract thousands of bees, so many, in fact, that the tree seems to emit a humming noise when approached.
Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, “M” setting, ISO 160, f16 @ 1/160.