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Common Name:

Retama or Jerusalem Thorn

Scientific Name:

Parkinsonia aculeata

Family Name:

Leguminosae (Fabaceae)


Retama is a small deciduous single to multi-stem tree with bright green bark. Its foliage is rather sparse and is both cold and drought deciduous, during which times the trunk acts as the photosynthetic organ. Needle-like thorns at the nodes on twigs and old trunks are maintenance and pedestrian hazards. The yellow flowers with red-orange throats are borne en masse in spring or early summer and then sproradically to autumn.

Plant Habit or Use:

Large shrub, small tree



Flower Color:

Yellow with orange-red flowers

Blooming Period:

Spring, summer, fall

Fruit Characteristics:

Pods, onto ornamental


15 ft to 20 ft (rarely 30 ft)


15 ft to 20 ft

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: High Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: Low Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Low Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: High Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Low Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

Firewise Index

Explanation of the Firewise Index numerical value

USDA Hardiness Zones:

8, 9, 10, 11

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas Region H - Rio Grande Valley
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Marginally cold hardy in USDA zone 8a; very drought, salt, and heat tolerant, more tolerant of seasonally poor drainage than given credit for in the literature.
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A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.