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Cercidium microphyllum - (Torr.) Rose & I. M. Johnst

Common Name Paloverde. Foothill palo verde. Small-leaved palo verde
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 9-10
Known Hazards None Known
Habitats Native to the American southwest, Baja and Sonora, Mexico. It grows on rocky slopes, desert foothills and mesas. Coarse soils of plains and hillslopes; mainly at elevations up to 600 metres, occasionally reaching 800 metres[1333].
Range Southwestern N. America - California, Arizona, northern Mexico
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Cercidium microphyllum Paloverde. Foothill palo verde. Small-leaved palo verde

wikimedia.org Homer Edward Price
Cercidium microphyllum Paloverde. Foothill palo verde. Small-leaved palo verde
wikimedia.org Homer Edward Price


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This name is a synonym of Parkinsonia microphylla. Parkinsonia microphylla is a spiny, deciduous shrub or a small tree usually growing to 4m. The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a source of food, and has potential for use as a protein supplement. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental in semi-arid regions[1050].

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Cercidium microphyllum is a deciduous Tree growing to 4 m (13ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


C. microphylla (Torr.) Britton & Rose; Parkinsonia microphyllum Torr.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Seed  Seedpod
Edible Uses:

Edible Portion: Seeds, Pods, Flowers. Seeds - cooked[257 , 1333 ]. The dried beans were roasted (often until almost burnt) then ground into a powder and made into a mush or into cakes[257 ]. Usually viewed as a famine food and only used when better foods were not available[257 ]. The seeds are rich in protein (they contain around 22% protein, 50% carbohydrate and 18% fat) and have potential for use as a human food[1543 ]. The dried, powdered seed has a digestibility rating of 76%, increasing to 85% when cooked - this is higher than for many of the commonly eaten legume foods. The seeds do contain antinutritional factors, including trypsin inhibitors, phenols, alkaloids and haemagglutinin, but these are not present in high enough concentration to constitute a major nutritional problem. These antinutritional factors are soluble in saline solutions and can be removed by soaking or during cooking[1543 ]. The seedpods are 35 - 110mm long and 7 - 9mm wide, containing 1 - 4, brown, sub-globose seeds 8 - 10mm long and 5 - 7mm wide[1333 ]. Carbon Farming Solutions - Staple Crop: protein (The term staple crop typically refers to a food that is eaten routinely and accounts for a dominant part of people's diets in a particular region of the world) [1-1].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None Known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

The wood is hard and heavy[1050]. Landscape Use: Xeric and/or native desert gardens as a small multi-branched tree or large background shrub. The Seri people, a Native American group of northwestern Mexico, call this tree ziipxöl; They strung the seeds for necklaces.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Management: Standard  Staple Crop: Protein  Wild Staple Crop

Climate: subtropical. Humidity: arid to semi-arid. Parkinsonia microphylla is a plant of arid and semi-arid climates in southwestern N. America, experiencing high summer temperatures and a highly variable rainfall[1050 ]. Requires a well-drained soil in a sunny position[1050 ]. The leaves of this species are ephemeral. The plant usually comes into leaf in the rainy season, but the leaves are soon deciduous, the function of photosynthesis being carried out by the green stems[1333 ]. The plant often responds poorly to coppicing[1050 ]. This species occasionally forms hybrids throughout its range with blue paloverde (Parkinsonia florida). In Mexico, it hybridizes with Parkinsonia praecox to form the natural hybrid Sonoran paloverde (Parkinsonia x sonorae)[1050 ]. Although many species within the family Fabaceae have a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, this species is said to be devoid of such a relationship and therefore does not fix atmospheric nitrogen[1309 ]. It is slow growing. Trees can live for several hundred years. Carbon Farming Solutions - Cultivation: wild staple. Management: standard (Describes the non-destructive management systems that are used in cultivation) [1-1].

Carbon Farming

  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Staple Crop: Protein  (16+ percent protein, 0-15 percent oil). Annuals include beans, chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas, and pigeon peas. Perennials include perennial beans, nuts, leaf protein concentrates, and edible milks.
  • Wild Staple Crop  Some wild plants have strong historical or contemporary use. Although they are not cultivated crops, they may be wild-managed.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed, acid scarification of seeds in 95% sulfuric acid for 30 min to 1 hr followed by a 15 minute rinse in cool to tepid water. Sow immediately thereafter.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Yellow paloverde, Yellow Palo Verde, Ziipxol.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Native to: Arizona, California, Mexico Northwest.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Torr.) Rose & I. M. Johnst

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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