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The Mesquite tree (Prosopis glandulosa) 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 (deciduous) 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 Mother Nature knows for sure….right?
Train Your Mesquite bush into a tree.
The Mesquite bush can easily be trained 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? The Honey Mesquite tree photo below.
The Honey Mesquite Tree
The most common Mesquite tree is the Honey Mesquite. There are many types of Mesquite Trees. (Prosopis-glandulosa) A photo is shown above.
Does it have thorns?
Yes, it does. But not the thornless Chilean Mesquite more about this Mesquite at the end of this post. The honey mesquite tree does have very large vicious thorns on most of the large and smaller branches. However, the trunk of the honey Mesquite rarely has them. I would not dare attempt to climb this tree! It is a great tree for Xeriscape landscapes.
The Leslie Roy Mesquite Tree
This tree is a hybrid cross-pollinated by Civano Nursery it is a native Mesquite (Prosopis velutina) and the thornless Chilean Mesquite. A very good tree for the southwest as it provides shade for large or small yard desert landscapes. It will grow to about 30ft. tall and about 20ft. wide. It is drought tolerant but requires more water than the true mesquite tree. It also produces a white creamy flower.
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.
The Chilean Mesquite Tree
The Chilean Mesquite tree also called a thornless Mesquite tree (Prosopis chilensis) does very well in the southwestern United States. Drought tolerant and perfect for xeriscape and rock gardens. It will grow to about 40’ft. tall and 40ft’ wide. Learn more right about this tree here.
Mesquite Tree Problems
Like most trees, they are somewhat susceptible to borers and diseases. Larvae borers will drill a hole in the upper limbs and the main trunk. The sap from these holes will ooze out a sticky dark substance. Use a borer systemic insecticide to kill the borer. Slime flux disease will also attack the tree but there is no cure for this disease, however, trimming off the dead or diseased limb will help in recovery.
USDA Hardiness Zone: 7 – 9
Paul Guzman – Husband, Father, Grandfather, Gardener, and Webmaster of GuzmansGreenhouse.com