- A864843FF737CA5FC78E1D4AB1952CC7
Arid Zone Trees All of our plants meet or exceed the minimum requirements of the American Standard for Nursery Stock (ANSI Z60.1)



While the term microclimate suggests a small place, a more practical definition would be a unique niche, within a landscape or community, where plants that are not well adapted to a particular geographical region can survive, grow and thrive. Microclimates can have qualities like reduced light intensity, increased humidity, protection from frost or wind or a combination of numerous physical and environmental factors that foster plant growth. Conversely, and rarely discussed, there are niches that can also be considered microclimates that have qualities detrimental to plant growth and are highly uncharacteristic of the surrounding environmental conditions. Such sites would include places with high levels of reflected summer heat and sunlight, or areas that are highly prone to extremely low winter temperatures. In many instances the characteristics of both types of microclimates may be very subtle and difficult to fully appreciate. For example, cold tender plants may survive in a microclimate by buffering the surrounding freezing temperatures by only one or two degrees. Such sites are typically discovered by accident when plants survive an otherwise killing frost. Because cold air is heavier than warm air it tends to drain like water, from higher elevations and accumulate in low lying areas by following canyons, river bed and arroyos. This explains the sometimes random distribution of cold damaged plants following a freeze and why plants in low lying areas are more severely injured.


The temperature modifying effects of microclimates are strongly influenced by the physical geography of an area (example: low lying areas and frost cold injury), the quality and texture of soil, presence or absence of turf, or surrounding buildings, structures, hardscape elements, pavement and glass, especially windows treated with reflective coatings. Reported record high and low temperatures for a community or locality are only a reflection of the temperature at the specific site where the temperature is measured and cannot be generalized too broadly. Early in the 20th century, in the absence of historical weather data, Phoenix area citrus growers would only establish new orchards in areas where they found native Ironwood trees (Olneya tesota) growing. The presence of Ironwoods, a species that doesn't not tolerate hard freezes, indicated that the microclimates was relatively frost free and would be a safe place to grow cold tender citrus trees.


It is generally thought that the stored and reflected solar radiation of buildings, hardscape elements and paving act to mitigate low winter temperatures and create environments conducive to survival of frost tender plants. What must also be appreciated is that some of these same locations can amplify and concentrate the high temperatures of these sites in summer. This is particularly true for landscape plantings on the west and southwest sides of buildings where afternoon heat is the most intense. When placing trees in the landscape consider the impact of factors like reflected and stored heat from structures and paving and recognize their potential effects under both winter and summer conditions.


The table below lists documented low temperatures for the trees listed. Most of the temperatures listed were collected either at botanical gardens or research planting at the University of Arizona, Desert Legume Program, (Tucson and Yuma, AZ), Arid Zone Trees (Mesa, AZ), and Boyce Thompson Arboretum (Superior, AZ).




Acacia aneura  15 F.

A. berlandieri 15 F.

A. caven  10 F.

A. constricta 15 F.

A. coriacea 20 F.

A. cowleana  20 F.

A. craspedocarpa 15 F. (foliage tip burn)

A. eburnea  15 F.

A. erioloba  7 F.

A. gerrardii  15 F.

A. greggii  0 F.

A. jennerae  15 F.

A. karroo (brown truck)  15 F.

A. karroo (tan trunk)  damage below 20 F.

A. ligulata  15. F.

A. lysiphloia  20 F.

A. microaneura  15 F.

A. notabilis 15 F.

A. occidentalis  15 F.

A. pendula 15 F.

A. rigidula  10-15 F.

A. schaffneri  15 F.

A. stenophylla  20 F.

A. smallii  15 F.

A. trachycarpa  25 F.

A. victoriae  15 F.

A. willardiana  20-25 F.

Caesalpinia cacalaco  20 F.

C. gilliesii  10 F.

C. mexicana  20 F.

Celtis reticulata  -20F.

Cercidium floridum  10 F.

C. hybrid 'AZT'  (clone)  15 F.

C. hybrid 'Desert Museum' (clone) 15 F.

C. microphyllum  15 F.

C. praecox  20 F.

C. praecox (AZT)  15 F.

Chilopsis linearis  10 F.

C. linearis (clone)  10 F.

Eysenhardtia orthocarpa  15 F.

E. texana 15 F.

Faidherbia albida  25 F.

Geoffroea decorticans  15 F.

Olneya tesota  20 F.

Pithecellobium flexicaule  15 F. (death to no damage do to genetic variability)

P. mexicanum 15 F.

P. pallen  15 F. (damage to foliage)

Prosopis chilensis  15 F.

P. thornless hybrid (clone)  15 F.

P. glandulosa  -10 F.

P. glandulosa (thornless clone)  15 F.

P. pubescens  0 F.

P. velutina  5 F.

Psorothamnus spinosus  15 F.

Sophora secundiflora  0 F.

Vauquelinia californica  0 F.

Vitex agnus-castus  0 F.


Revised August 1, 2015


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.

© Copyright  2000-2020   Arid Zone Trees