Parkinsonia aculeata has a neotropical distribution from the south of the United Sates to the Caribbean islands and until the north of Argentina. It has been introduced in Africa, Australia, and Europe.
It grows in semi-arid areas of tropical America. In general it can be found close to:
In North America it can be found in valleys, canyons and especially in the foothills.
Reduced leaves and photosynthetic stems are an adaptation to life in arid conditions.