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Geoffroea decorticans

Chilean Palo Verde

Foliage: Deciduous

Mature Height: 20’ - 30’

Mature Width: 20’ - 30’

Growth Rate: Moderate to Fast

Hardiness: 15 degrees F

Exposure: Full Sun

Leaf Color: Green

Shade: Filtered

Flower Color:  Yellow

Flower Shape: Funnel Shaped Petals

Flower Season: Spring

Thorns: Yes

Propagation Method: Seed

Sizes Available: #25


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Geoffroea decorticans PDF


Geoffroea decorticans has two common names, Chanar and Chilean Palo Verde. Chilean Palo Verde possibly comes from the mottled green color of the trunks but does not seriously resemble Cercidium. It is found in a number of semi-arid regions of Bolivia, Brazil, Patagonia and Argentina. Chanar is found growing naturally from sea level to over 7,000 feet where it may grow as a shrub or to a tree nearly 30 feet tall. Trees tend to be quite upright with a spreading canopy with both straight and mildly curving trunks. Leaves are cold and drought deciduous. It tends to occur in areas with high water tables or near permanent sources of water.


As trees mature the trunks and branches take on a sculptural quality with long longitudinal, irregular ridges and valleys. Along with this undulating trunk, large flakes of the bark peel off or decorticate (hence the species name decorticans). The peeling tan to brown bark is eventually shed revealing the dark green, "immature" trunk beneath. The contrasting colors and textures created by this puzzle-piece pattern make the tree visually fascinating.


Small, papery, pale yellow flowers are produced in spring, either singly or in clusters. Geoffroea is unique among legumes in that it produces fleshy, oval pods that hold a single seed. Fruit are initially green but turn orange brown as they mature. Seeds and fruit are valued as human and animal feed and the yellow wood is suitable for carpentry and furniture making.


Cold hardy to at least 15 degrees, the tree has grown successfully for many years at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum (Superior, AZ) and at the Desert Legume Program in Tucson, AZ. Leaves are small and dispersed and pale gray green in color. Twigs are rigid, gray green and end in a sharp thorn. Trees can spread by root sprouts to form thickets. In wide-open areas or on the landscape perimeter this may be a desirable quality. In more confined settings sprout growth can be eliminated by pruning and by avoiding over irrigating trees.


With its unique form and sculptural trunks Chanar produces dramatic silhouettes by day and accentuated with landscape lighting by night. It is best used as a focal point specimen tree, at entries, with signage or in groupings.


Disclaimer: The information provided here was gathered from research literature published by the University of Arizona, other professional Landscape and Horticultural organizations and our experience at Arid Zone Trees. Always consult local landscape experts for recommendation for your specific area.

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