April always attracts a herd of allergic patients. I wondered about this until I realized that it is the ultimate trifecta of allergy as our worse Arizona allergies are beginning their pollination at this time, palo verde, mesquite and eucalyptus. These are 3 of the worst allergens in the state. However, I thought I would take this time to look on the bright side and delve into the historic purposes of these Arizona plants.
Palo verde is the beautiful green trees with yellow leaves. It’s name means “green stick” in Spanish. It is indigenous to the southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. It is able to conduct photosynthesis in its green trunk and branches. This and their incredibly resilient ability to tolerate drought makes these trees very special.
Historically, beans from the palo verde were used as a food source by native Americans, who ate the beans cooked or raw or ground them for use as a flour or gruel. The flowers are also edible, and the wood has been used for carving.
The twigs of palo verde can be boiled and used to ease abdominal pain. The sap was used as a treatment for arthritis, diabetes, bronchitis and asthma. The gum was used to preserve food. Tea from its boiled bark was used for pains. Soap was made from an emulsion of animal fat and its ground roots.
Palo verde is also the state tree of our beautiful Arizona!
Mesquite are trees and shrubs that shed their leaves annually. Yes, these are the copious leaves that end up in your pool every year. They are found in the southcentral and southwestern United States. They develop small, yellow or white flowers and their pollen is primarily wind-borne.
They are special because we can harvest their wood for the fragrant mesquite of barbeques. The mesquite bean pods can be ground into a flour and used to make breads and tortillas while the medicinal properties include aiding in digestion, managing weight and controlling diabetes, and lowering blood pressure. Its dark sap can be used as a hair shampoo and conditioner and used to be ingested for abdominal upset or diarrhea. It was also diluted and used as an antiseptic eye wash or wound cleaner. Mesquite wood, at least according to my Dad, is great to make furniture and build.
Eucalyptus is an evergreen trees or shrubs originally from southern Australia. They are not indigenous to the United States but were introduced and flourish in Mississippi, Florida, Arizona and California. They have white flowers and their pollen is wind- and insect-borne.
Eucalyptus are special because their fresh and dried leaves have a fresh fragrance. Their wood has been harvested for building construction. Their leaves are used an herbal tea that is said to calm nerves and decrease pain. Oil from the tree is used in products to relieve congestion, ward off mosquitos and rodents, to help treat external mouth ulcers. Topical creams and ointments made from the oil is used to alleviate pain and in mouthwash and toothpaste as a flavoring and to ward off plaque. Its bark can be used to dye fabrics and tan leather. It is not safe to ingest full strength oil so leave this to the pharmacists, chemists or witch doctors. According to my Dad, the woodworker, eucalyptus is great to make furniture.
These 3 trees may be the bane of your existence, but they were once critical to survival here in the Arizona.
If you would like to be tested for your allergies or believe you might be a good candidate for allergy shots, Dr. Wendt and the staff at Relieve Allergy, Asthma & Hives would love to help.
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