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Q: Why don’t we use Jerusalem Thorn as a parking lot tree more often here?

Q:  I have notice a few commercial and governmental sites in Central Florida have been using Jerusalem Thorn as a parking lot tree.  Why don’t we use it more often here?  It seems like a care-free tree.

A:  Usually the biggest deterrent to using new or different trees in commercial and government sites is because these areas are often regulated by local ordinances which can be difficult to change or alter.  In addition, availability of tree varieties is often very limited by the nursery growers stock. Growers want to produce what will sell (which is why they are in the nursery business) and unusual trees can be very risky. The only other downfall of this particular tree may be its short life span which is only 15-20 years. However, most of us know trees in urban areas are not long-lived anyway because urban environments are often extremely severe.

The Jerusalem Thorn tree will tolerate very hot and dry conditions which would make it a great median or parking lot tree. This tree has strong wood and with its natural open shape allows it to tolerate high winds well.  For the reasons stated above, it would be a good addition to some commercial sites but it should not be planted in an area which would be receiving irrigation twice a week, which often occurs in lawn grass landscapes. Attached is a publication from the University of Florida on the Jerusalem Thorn: