Mesquite Trees

Prosopis spp

Mesquites provide benefits such as dappled shade (deciduous in winter), fast growth, and low water requirements. Mesquite trees have extremely long roots that seek water both shallow and deep. Most species bloom mostly in Spring, but flowers can appear through Summer.

Flowers: J F M A M J J A S O N D
Status: Native and South America
Origin: Varies by species
Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Size: varies by species, 25′ – 50′ tall and 15′ – 25′ wide
Sun: Full
Watering: Irrigate only the first season
Growth Rate: Moderate to fast, depending on available water
Soil: Tolerant of a variety of soil types
Temperature:
Pruning: Selective to reduce storm damage if lower branches have been removed or if on supplemental irrigation
Disease and Pests: Aphids on new growth in Spring, Texas Root Rot in summer on excessively watered specimens
Uses: Native garden, host plant, nectar plant for native bees, bird nesting habitat. Host Plant for Marine Blue, Reakirt’s Blue, Ceraunus Blue, Palmer’s Metalmark, Leda Ministreak, Hubbard’s Small Silkmoth, Tricolor Buckmoth, Juno Buckmoth, Owlet Moths, Geometrid Moths, Bagworm Moths, Mesquite Clearwing Moth
Notes: Be aware that the trees can be thorny and naturally have an aggressive and rangy growth habit, and the trees easily cross pollinate amongst species. Nurseries offer hybrids without stippler spines. Note that there is growing evidence that contact with mesquite foliage and pollen may cause an allergic reaction.


Argentine Mesquite, Prosopis alba

Origin: Arid and subtropical regions of South America; Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and Paraguay. It has naturalized in Hawaii.
Form and Character: Large upright and spreading asymmetrical form. Typically twisting and contorted when young.
Flowers and Fruit: Greenish-yellow catkins in Spring. Pods ripen in July – edible.
Temperature: Damaged by temperatures below 15 degrees F.
Pruning: Prune vigorously when young to establish a strong and limited scaffold branch system.

Chilean Mesquite, Prosopis chilensis

Origin: South America
Form and Character: Upright with umbrella shape when mature. More symmetrical than Prosopis alba. Although the outer form is symmetric, the inner crown branch topology is chaotic. Far fewer thorns than other mesquite species.
Flowers and Fruit: 2″ greenish-yellow catkins in April. Pods ripen in July – edible.
Temperature: Damaged by temperatures below 20 degrees F.
Pruning: Prune vigorously when young to establish a strong and limited scaffold branch system.

Honey Mesquite, Prosopis glandulosa

Origin: Broadly distributed from the San Joaquin Valley of central California, Arizona, southwest corner of Utah and southern Nevada, southern New Mexico, Texas, south Oklahoma and even into Louisiana and then extending south into the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico.
Form and Character: Asymmetrical with a twisting and contorted branch topology – picturesque when mature.
Flowers and Fruit: Greenish-yellow catkins in April. Pods ripen in August – edible. Fruit pods are very sweet.
Temperature: Damaged by temperatures below 20 degrees F.
Pruning: Prune vigorously when young to a single trunk and scaffold branch system.
Varieties: There are three naturally occurring varieties of Honey Mesquite, P. glandulosa var. glandulosa, P. glandulosa var. prostrata and P. glandulosa var. torreyanna.

Velvet Mesquite, Prosopis velutina

Origin: Southwest United States and Mexico; characteristics including form highly variable by region.
Form and Character: Asymmetrical, multiple trunk, shrub like; twisting with age.
Flowers and Fruit: 2″ white or pale yellow catkins in May. Pods are edible.
Temperature: Damaged by temperatures below 20 degrees F.
Pruning: Prune vigorously when young to establish a strong and limited scaffold branch system.

Thornless Mesquite Variants

  • Prosopis x ‘PhoenixTM
  • ‘Rio Salado’
  • ‘Crown Jewel’
  • ‘Arizona mesquiteTM