Parkinsonia aculeata is a small deciduous tree or shrub approximately 3–7m tall. The trunk and branches are green and photosynthetic.

Leaves are:

  • bipinnate
  • alternate or fasciculate
  • with terminal spine-like rachis (sometimes 2 lateral short spines)
  • compound - each compound leaf is 10-40cm long, with 60-160 oblong alternate leaflets 3-8mm long 

It has raceme inflorescences with 3–30 flowers, each 1–2.5cm wide.

Flowers have 5 yellow petals, the upper petal with pink spots. 

The fruit is a long brown pod with 1–5 oval seeds.

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