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Sonoran Arboretum

Many desert trees are members of the pea (or legume) family of plants, Fabaceae, distantly related to green beans, their pods and seeds can also be eaten if processed properly. Legumes grow well in nutrient-poor soil of the desert because they have the ability to provide their own nitrogen, a vital fertilizer. The nitrogen is a by-product of bacterium which lives on the roots of these plants.

Since a great deal of water is lost by evaporation from the surface of leaves, these trees conserve water by remaining leafless most of the year.

This Sonoran desert arboretum contains specimens of some of the common trees in the pea family. You will notice many similarities in the structure of their leaves, flowers and seed pods.

Botanical Name Common Name Family
Olneya tesota Ironwood Fabaceae
Parkinsonia florida Blue Palo Verde Fabaceae
Parkinsonia microphylla Little-leaf Palo Verde Fabaceae
Parkinsonia praecox Palo Brea Fabaceae
Prosopis velutina Velvet Mesquite Fabaceae
Senegalia greggii (syn. Acacia greggii) Cat’s Claw Acacia Fabaceae
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