Science notes


PALOVERDE - Cercidium sp. Cercidium. Takic: Green Paloverde: Oowet. Cercidium is a member of the pea family. This family which includes beans, peas, clover, alfalfa, logwood and indigo, important dye plants, Astragalus and Oxytropis. Some of the latter contain poisons used as insecticides. These are called the loco weeds. All of these are legumes, and fix nitrogen in the soil. In this way, they are very good for enriching the soil. The peas of all the indigenous, locally naturally occurring species are edible. Gather them in June or from packrat nests. As long as the Hanta virus is in an area, DO NOT EAT ANY FOOD FROM PACK RATS' NESTS. When green, they taste similar to the domesticated pea, but sweeter and firmer. They are rich in Vitamin A. Eat them fresh, in salads, as sprouts, or cooked. Dry the pods in the sun, rub together to free the seeds, or beat them out, winnow, collect, parch and store them for the winter, or toast, grind, and cook the flour with water. It can be used as gruel with honey, mesquite flour, and sea turtle oil added. To sprout them, you must scratch or file the surface of the shell so that moisture may enter. If they are eaten fully ripe, they cause diarrhea. They say that the bark tea is good for arthritis. The trunks and larger branches can be made into ladles. The wood is soft and brittle and burns very quickly, giving off an unpleasant odor and leaving few coals. It is NOT recommended that this plant be put near the eaves of a house; in the desert, one of the major ways a house can burn is for the eaves to catch fire. They say a Paloverde tree is a good place under which to eat; you won't be bothered by flies. This works for me, but Kerry Brasswel says that the flies are thickest in the hay feeder of the horse that lives under her Paloverde. The twigs pods are browsed. Cut the upper branches and feed to horses, donkeys, etc. The flowers yield honey. The Verdin, a tiny bird, likes to live in these trees.

C. floridum (C. torreyanum, torreyana, peninsulare, Parkinsonia florida, torreyana) : Blue Palo Verde, Blue Paloverde, Palo Brea, Palo de Pua. Seri: Ziij, Iiz. Takic: Uuwet, Oowit, Nahsoowit, Ankichem. The seeds can be sun dried, toasted, and ground. They can be cooked into Atole. The flour is mixed with water, cooked, and flavored with honey or sea turtle oil. It can be stored. The green pods were cooked with meat. The dry pods can be ground with the seeds. The flowers, stripped off the tree with the fingers, are also edible raw or cooked in water and the juice squeezed from them. The liquid is mixed with sea turtle oil or honey and remixed with the flowers. The seeds were used to make necklaces. The wood was used as firewood, and to make pry bars to uproot Agaves. The tree can be used to shelter campers. This tree exudes a substance that is well liked by some insects.

C. microphyllum (P. microphylla, Cercidiopsis microphylla): Bigote, Dipua, Dipuga, Foothill Paloverde, Foothills Paloverde, Jerusalem Thorn, Little Leaf Paloverde, Littleleaf Paloverde, Male Palo Verde, Yellow Paloverde. In Spanish, "Palo Verde" means "Green Branch". This is because the trunk is green and contains chlorophyll. It allows the plant to engage in photosynthesis when it has no leaves. Akimel: Kuk chueedak. Seri: Ziipxol. The green seeds are sweet and edible raw. Dry the pods in the sun and rub together in a cloth to get the seeds out. Winnow, toast, grind, and make them into gruel or Atole. Honey or Mesquite flour can be added. The flour can be stored. The green pods can be cooked with meat. The seeds must be refrigerated; they are almost always infested with weevils. The flowers are edible raw, boiled, or cooked in the same manner as C. floridum flowers. The ones from the thornless trees are better. Squeeze the juice from the cooked flowers and mix with turtle oil or honey; add the flowers back. The seeds are strung on necklaces, and the wood is used for firewood if nothing else is available, and is used to make a pry bar to uproot Agaves. To seal pottery, boil the ground seeds and skim off the scum, and rub it into the exterior. Jackrabbits like the flowers.

C. praecox (C. spinosum, viride, plurifoliolatum, unijuga, goldmannii, Caesalpinia p., Rhetinophloeum v.): Palo Brea, Palo Mantescoso. Seri: Maas. The ground bark mixed with sea turtle oil and salt, was used as a lotion for sprains and bruises, and the bark tea was drunk to help in the expulsion of a torn placenta. The bark was heated and used to glue leather and other things.

C. x sonorae (C. sonorae): Brea, Cercidium, Palo Estribo. The wood is used to make stirrups. See C. praecox, above. C. molle. C. peninsulare.

P. aculeata (P. thornberi): Acacia de Aguijote, Bagota, Barbados Fence Flowers, Cloth of Gold, Crown of Thorns, Espilla, Espinillo, Espino Real de Espana, Flor de Rayo, Horse Bean, Horsebean, Jerusalem Thorn, Junco, Junco Marina, Mexican Palo Verde, Palo de Rayo, Parkinsonia, Retama, Wacoporo. Seri: Snapxol. The seeds are edible raw when green and tender, in the spring. Remove the seed coats. Febrifuge, sudorific. The twig tea was used for stomachache, diabetes, and epilepsy. Do not use the herb during pregnancy. This is a rapidly growing ornamental. It has exceptionally long thin leaves and six inch pods. Some authorities claim the peas are poisonous to humans, but others state that they are eaten by livestock and wildlife. Livestock, horses, and deer also eat the foliage and pods. Cut the young branches for them. The flowers yield honey. The tree is more easily bothered by little rainfall, and the branches drop off more readily. The plant is subject to the paloverde borer. The seeds do not have to be filed before they will germinate.

Science Notes