Is the mesquite a tree or is it a large bush? In its natural habitat, it is a desert bush that needs little water and tolerates poor soils. It will lose its leaves in winter but will always bounce back right after the last freeze. Most folks look for the mesquite to leaf out as a sign that we will not have any more freezes. Of course, only God knows for sure….right?
You can easily train it to look like a tree. Removing the bottom suckers and other smaller limbs at the bottom and it will grow into a nice medium sized tree about 15 maybe 20ft. tall. It does have vicious thorns that will stop anyone from trying to climb the tree. As a tree the main trunk and a few of the bottom branches will usually not have these thorns.
It also produces large edible sweet seed pods. During the early and mid-summer the pods are a dark green color but towards the end of summer or early fall, the pods will turn a light brown almost egg white color. This is the best time to pick and suck out the juice from these pods. Hard seeds will not produce much flavor but the softer ones will. Picking them just before they fall is the best time to harvest them. See Photo below.
The Mesquite Tree
Did you know it thrives in the lower elevations of Arizona, Colorado, California, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas Utah and of course New Mexico.
It is very easy to make a tree out of a mesquite bush. Removing all the small suckers or brances except for the main trunk will give you the desired effect.
Types of Mesquite Trees.There are many types of Mesquite Trees. The most common in the desert southwest is the Honey Mesquite (Prosopis-glandulosa)
The Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina) pictured below is very similar to the honey Mesquite. The foliage is much shorter and it too tolerates poor soil and drought conditions.