Palo Verde wood doesn’t boast the celebrity status of cedar, mahogany, or cherry. Could it be that Palo Verde wood is not popular in the woodworking industry because its functionality is limited? In fact, is Palo Verde wood good for anything?

Palo Verde wood is highly workable with moderate durability. It is reasonably dense, presenting medium natural luster, with its grain sharing a strong resemblance with aspen. Palo Verde wood burns fast due to its more porous wood structure. They are highly workable and easy to cut. That said, Palo Verde wood is expensive because of its rarity.

To better assuage your curiosity about Palo Verde wood, let us learn more about its strength, durability, and how (and what) you can use it for. But before all that, let us fundamentally learn about where this wood comes from.

What is Palo Verde wood made from? 

Palo Verde wood is derivable from Palo Verde. The latter is a collection of trees spread across the Sonoran Deserts, specifically covering arid regions of northwestern Mexico and the Southwestern United States. 

Palo Verde trees are easily recognizable for their yellow flowers, which resemble peas. Palo Verde trees have small leaves and brown seed pods.  

This deciduous tree is commonly adapted for landscaping function, given its decorative properties. They can grow up to 40 ft but rarely grow below 16 feet. 

But here is something more interesting: Palo Verde trees can live up to 400 years!

Why is this wood called Palo Verde?

Palo Verde wood derives its name from its unique green coloring. Palo Verde is a Spanish terminology denoting “green stick”.

When processing Palo Verde wood, you are sure to come across the substantially green bark of the Palo Verde tree. Such green coloring can be traced to the abundant chlorophyll composition of such barks. 

Is Palo Verde wood durable?

While deciduous, Palo Verde wood doesn’t boast the traditional strength of hardwoods. Palo Verde would work for interior applications (and last years) but may not hold up so long when exposed to outdoor conditions.  

Palo Verde doesn’t have the dimensional stability required for outdoor wood applications. Palo Verde wood’s natural resistance to decay (when directly exposed to atmospheric elements) is not that impressive.

If you want to use Palo Verde wood on an exterior project, you can reasonably enhance its durability by fortifying it with biocides before installation.

What type of grain does Palo Verde wood have? 

Palo Verde wood’s texture is moderately uniform.

It doesn’t have a high natural luster. Overall, the grain is straight and mirrors aspen.

What is the moisture content of Palo Verde wood?

Palo Verde wood has minimal moisture content. This wood thrives in arid conditions and has learned to do without water. 

Its porous wood structure also means Palo Verde doesn’t retain water that long. That said, when the Palo Verde tree is felled, you will inevitably see a reasonable amount of water. 

But then Palo Verde wood dries fast when you sap the Palo Verde boards by standing them and allowing them to drain vertically. 

We advise against kiln drying your Palo Verde wood, given this wood’s notoriety with fire. (We will learn more about this shortly).

For best results, only start using your Palo Verde wood for your project when its moisture content has dropped below 10% (in the case where you fell your Palo Verde tree yourself).

With such moisture content eliminated, the fungus or insects inside your Palo verde wood are denied the nourishment critical to their survival. This means a well-reduced risk of fungal attacks later on.

Does Palo Verde wood cause allergies?

Yes, Palo Verde wood can cause allergies, especially when preparing it from Palo Verde trees. Palo verde wood that was not adequately dried can trigger allergic reactions. 

You can experience reactions like nasal itching, blocked nose, or nasal drip when sustainably exposed to Palo Verde wood. 

How fast does Palo Verde wood burn?

Palo Verde wood’s central core is not strong. When this is added to the notable porosity of Palo Verde’s wood, you get a wood type with minimal resistance to heat. 

Consequently, Palo Verde quickly gets aflame and burns pretty fast once alight. Given its propensity to get quickly lit, it is better to use Palo Verde to enhance or kindle fire.

Don’t use Palo Verde wood for firewood. It will burn too quickly, saddling you with the enviable task of constantly adding new wood to keep the fire up. 

How workable is Palo Verde wood?

Every woodworker has an inherent dread for working hardwood – especially when you have not gotten a workshop amply stocked with machines. 

Well, despite featuring in the hardwood family, Palo Verde wood is effortless to work with. While it is not the quickest to split, it glues really well. 

Palo Verde also works well with various finishes, especially after being properly sanded. Its nail-holding capability is not the best, but it is not that terrible, either. 

For hardwood, it is so easy to cut Palo Verde wood. The flexibility of its structure ensures you can cut your Palo Verde in many styles, from cross cut to miter cut. 

Of course, the type of cut you want will determine the saw you use on your Palo Verde wood. Seasoned woodworkers agree that Miter saw works best for bevel and miter cuts. 

You will have to go with circular saws to make rip cuts and crosscuts on your Palo Verde wood.

Can you stain Palo Verde wood?

Many woodworkers opine that Palo Verde doesn’t collect stains. But this is not totally accurate. 

Given its porous wood structure, it is quite challenging to achieve uniformity when staining Palo Verde. But if you take a while to prepare your Palo Verde wood adequately, it will stain evenly.

This will give you an alluring finish.

To stain Palo Verde wood, you must first prepare it with a clear conditioner. This should come after you have sanded your wood. 

Sanding your Palo Verde wood goes a long way in improving its overall grain. 

This conditioner is critical to shutting off the Palo Verde’s pores. With some of these pores now blocked, you have a more uniform surface for your stain to sit on.

While we would not recommend a conditioner for you, we highly advise that you spare some minutes to study the manufacturer’s (of the conditioner you choose) instructions on staining.

This will give you a more authoritative idea of how long the conditioner should stay on your Palo Verde wood.

Does Palo Verde wood smell?

You will perceive a fruity fragrance if you prepare your wood from a fresh Palo Verde tree. It is not effusive, and you may not even notice it unless you pay attention. 

However, once alight, a Palo Verde wood gives off a strong and unpleasant odor that you can’t miss. The smell is notably sour and will stay on surrounding fabric materials for days, especially when burned indoors. 

The toxicity of this smell can trigger allergies and even headaches. 

Is Palo Verde wood expensive?

Yes, Palo Verde wood doesn’t come cheap in the United States.

This is because its parent tree – the Palo Verde – is rare and almost exclusive to the southern regions of California and Arizona.

What is Palo Verde used for?

Palo Verde is not the strongest wood, but it has an impressive range of applications. Its inherent flexibility means Palo Verde works well for indoor furniture. 

You can use Palo Verde for constructing doors, decking, windows, cladding, and skirting. We don’t advise you Palo Verde wood for outdoor fencing, building structural beams, and roofs.  

Resources

Palo Verde and Mesquite

Palo Verde blooms

What is Palo Verde wood good for?

10 things you didn’t know about palo verde trees

Palo Verde Trees: Blue Palo Verde and Foothills Palo Verde