The Allure of the Smoke Tree

The smoke tree is a valuable and no-fuss landscape asset, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more drought resistant and water-wise tree anywhere. This native of our desert region fills washes and age-old flood plains, and is one of the most iconic shrub-like trees of the Coachella Valley. This member of the pea family (Fabaceae) has a crooked trunk with scaly, gray-brown bark. Because it has leaves for only a short period, it photosynthesizes through its green stems. For most of the year its plume-like growth and grey-green twigs give it a smoke-like appearance. But for a fleeting moment at the start of summer, half-inch dark purple or violet flowers grow in clusters along the leafless twigs. These sweet-smelling pea flowers attract many native bee species whose healthy populations help ensure the continuation of many native plants. When Measure J funds were allocated for sidewalk improvements along South Camino Real in front of the Palm Springs Presbyterian Church, the City’s initial construction plan called for the elimination of two mature smoke trees living in the church parking lot. At the request of church members, TRENO intervened with the City to help save the trees. As a result, when a sidewalk is poured sometime in the future, it will curve around the trees. Learn about the smoke tree at Learn about the Presbyterian Church (815 W Camino Real, Palm Springs, CA 92264) at Https://