Honey and Velvet Mesquite Trees or shrubs can take the extreme heat and the cold! This tree grows fast. What is the most common tree/shrub of the Desert Southwest? It is the Mesquite! Like many members of the Legume Family, mesquites restore nitrogen to the soil.
There are 3 common species of NATIVE mesquite trees: Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens ), Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), and Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina).
These native trees are extremely drought tolerant. Honey mesquites are more rounded with big, floppy, drooping branches. The foliage is feathery and straight – paired with sharp spines on twigs. This tree normally reaches 20–30 ft, but can reach as tall as 50 ft (15 m). The growth rate is medium. Honey mesquite coppices (it will make new growth from a root or stump if it is cut down), making permanent removal extremely hard. If a single trunk is cut down the Honey Mesquite will replace it with a multiple trunk version.
The Honey Mesquite has pale, yellow, elongated spikes and bears straight, yellow seed bean pods. In this picture you can see how long and strong this mesquite’s spikes are. I’ve learned NOT to wear flip flops when walking around our Honey Mesquite!
Caring for mesquite trees is a simple process after the tree has fully matured. Mesquite trees need a full day’s worth of direct sun light to grow. Make sure to plant your mesquite tree in a place where it will always have a lot of quality sun.
Good staking is crucial to the Mesquite, especially in areas with severe summer storms, monsoon season, or high winds.
The Shade from these Native Arizona Trees create a 10-15 degree cooler temperature.
This Mesquite has a tree disease that I continually battle. Mistletoe is a parasite that is common to Mesquite trees.
What is the strange growth on this tree? This disease looking growth coming out of our mesquite tree is Mistletoe. Check in the categories under tree disease for more information.
The shortcoming of Chilean and Honey Mesquites is wind damage. Proper staking and proper watering can help you avoid wind damage with your mesquite trees.
Make your trees “seek out” water and nutrients, by careful arrangement of your irrigation emitters and scheduled DEEP irrigation. This will foster the development of a more dispersed root system and reduces the risk of wind throw.
Pruning will keep your tree from becoming messy, while stimulating new growth on those branches that you pruned. The dead, diseased, broken or weak branches, drain the tree’s energy.
Mesquite bean pods are rich in carbohydrates and have very low moisture content, making them an excellent source for harvesting, processing, and storage. A variety of animals eat the seeds such as quail, dear, javalina.
Historic records have indicated that almost every part of the mesquite tree has a use. The Pima Indians of southern Arizona referred to the mesquite as the TREE OF LIFE.
During the inevitable droughts and deprivations of desert frontier days, the mesquite trees served up the primary food source for caravans and settlers. Mesquite beans became manna from heaven. Medical studies of mesquite trees and other desert foods, said that despite its sweetness, mesquite flour (made by grinding whole pods) is extremely effective in controlling blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
This extra large (over 30 feet tall) Mesquite tree gets watered more often during summer when the temperature is over 105 degrees.
Mesquites have lateral roots that extend far beyond the canopies of the plants and taproots that penetrate well below the surface of the soil. Some mesquites may live for more than two centuries, according to U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.
(Prosopis Velutina) Velvet Mesquite is the most common of the North American varieties, it ranges from southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and most common to the Chihuahua and Sonoran deserts of Mexico.
This is one of the 3 Most Common NATIVE Mesquite Trees - Velvet, Prosopis velutina. What does a mesquite look like? The photo below is a grove of the very common Velvet Mesquite Tree that grows naturally in Tucson, Arizona.
Velvet Mesquite Trees are a deciduous plant; the benefits are they are able to retain moisture during the winter or exceptionally dry seasons better because water does not escape through the leaves. These Mesquite trees have elongated bean pods. They are very sweet to taste when ripe – i.e. reddish-yellow in color. Later the beans change to yellow-brown. The Velvet Mesquite tree has thorns. The length of the thorny spikes can vary even on the same branch.
For the first year, deeply water your mesquite tree every week or so until it has properly matured. Once your velvet mesquite tree has matured, it can survive with a little supplemental water in addition to natural rain. In case of droughts, do water your mesquite trees more often.
Velvet Mesquites hold the record for deepest root (160′); these taproots can tap into deep, underground water supplies that aren’t available to the average plant.
The seeds of the Velvet Mesquite need to be scarified (abraded in flash flood or digestive tract for example) to germinate. Coyotes, and other desert animals eat the bean pods regularly.