The Green Stick Tree

I’m home from Arizona, and the wildflowers in Ohio have gone crazy in the week I’ve been gone.  More on that eventually, but in the mean time, indulge me in one more Arizona post.

“Palo verde” is Spanish for “green stick,” and when you see a palo verde tree, it’s easy to see how it got its name.

But that unusual green bark isn’t just for show.  This tree has photosynthetic bark.  Have I blown your mind?

Palo verdes are super common in southern Arizona.  In good (that is, wet) times, they do produce leaves, teeny tiny leaves that basically amount to little green specks.  But plants lose a lot of water through their leaves, a process called transpiration.  So as soon as things dry out – which they often do, this being a desert – palo verdes drop their itty-bitty leaves and photosynthesize with their bark instead.  Of all the ways plants in the Sonoran Desert have adapted to deal with the dry weather, I think this is my favorite.

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