Parkinsonia aculeata

Parkinsonia aculeata is a fairly abundant wild tree in all the Americas. Its attractive 2-coloured flowers make it a common garden plant.

Parkinsonia aculeata has been introduced in arid areas around the world as an alternative source of wood. It can also be found in other parts of the world as an ornamental tree.

In Australia it is considered an invasive species. It colonises wetlands and riverbanks forming thorny, impenetrable pockets. It poses a threat to local populations of water birds.

Numerous attempts have been made to eradicate this invasive species in Australia, including bulldozing, chemicals, and introducing seed beetles (Penthobruchus germaini and Mimosestes ulkei) and leaf bug (Rhinacloa callicrates).

There are also concerns about Parkinsonia aculeata invasiveness in Puerto Rico, Hawaii and the Galapagos Islands.

In Africa, monkeys collect the pods from the trees and eat the seeds.

Species detail

Traditional uses

Indigenous South Americans use this plant in many ways, including:

  • its wood has a strong fibre that can be used for making textiles
  • the wood is also heavy and provides a good source of fuel
  • the raw and cooked seeds are rich in proteins
  • the infusion of leaves, flowers and fruits is an alternative remedy to reduce fever, prevent malaria and ease rheumatism
  • Parkinsonia aculeata

    This tree has beautiful yellow flowers and a green trunk and branches, which are photosynthetic. Find out more about this attractive plant.

  • Parkinsonia aculeata

    Parkinsonia aculeata has adapted to life in semi-arid areas of tropical America. Find out where you might spot it.

  • Parkinsonia aculeata

    Get reference material for Parkinsonia aculeata.


Parkinsonia aculeata

Parkinsonia aculeata flowers and inflorescences.

© M Peña-Chocarro
Parkinsonia aculeata

Parkinsonia aculeata branchlet.

© M Peña-Chocarro
Parkinsonia aculeata

The spiny trunk and branches of Parkinsonia aculeata are green and photosynthetic.  

© M Peña-Chocarro
About the author

Javier Alejandro Luna
Department of Botany

Some common names for Parkinsonia aculeata

Jerusalem thorn - English
Cina-cina, brea de agua, palo verde, retama, bagote - Spanish
Yam-waaye - Maskoy
Cavuc - Nivaclé
Chañu, porejna - Arojeo
Bläjenda algro - Menonita dialect

Bipinnate leaf

A type of compound leaf that looks like a feather where the leaflets develop from both sides of a common axis (rachis).


In the form of clusters or bundles.


An unbranched inflorescence that bears short floral stalks with pedicel flowers along the axis.


The central axis of a compound leaf.

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