Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mesquite

Prosopis

A genus of trees that are closely related to the Acacias. The seed pods are a food source that can be ground to flour. The pods can also be used to feed livestock. The flowers are used in the production of honey. The timber is aromatic and the smoke is used to BBQ meats.
They prefer full sun on deep well drained soil. Most Mesquite are extremely drought tolerant. Mesquites are very deep rooted and hate root disturbance. The wide spreading Mesquite roots have also been found as deep as 200 feet in their search of water. It is important to either plant from seed on permanent site or transplant while very small. Mesquite is very easy to grow in hot dry climates and have multi-use potential in many climates for reforestation as well as food and timber.
The massive network of roots on these trees can be used to prevent erosion, especially on stream banks. The roots of the Mesquite can also fix nitrogen thus improving the soil. Also never throw away old Mesquite pods, they can be used as a nitrogen rich fertilizer.
Young trees should be trained to a single trunk, thin out overcrowded thicket-like branches.
Propagation from seed is easily done if soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes then left in cooler water for 12 hours before sowing. It is also possible to speed up germination by nicking the seedcoat or scarifying it with acid before soaking it in water. The seed will not germinate until water penetrates through the hard seedcoat. In the wild, the seeds will often soften as they travel through the digestive systems of animals especially cows that eat the pods, explaining the increase of Mesquite in much of the southwestern U.S. Propagation can also be done from half hardened cuttings.
Pharmacology: Most species contain Tryptamine. Prosopis juliflora contains
5-HTP.

Interesting External Link on Mesquite trials
http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/AD321E/ad321e0a.htm

Video found on Youtube

* photo of unknown internet source

* historical archive photo


Prosopis affinis ( Algarobilla )
An attractive, massive trunked, broad-spreading, medium-size tree, reaching up to 65 feet, that is native to South America in southern Bolivia, Paraguay, southwest Brazil, Uruguay and northwest Argentina. It is threatened by habitat loss in the wild. A well grown tree resembles the Honey Locust in appearance. Some records include: 2 years - 7 x 10 feet; 4 years - 9.5 feet; 5 years - 11 feet; 6 years - 13 feet; 9 years - 16 feet.
The leaves are deciduous but persist very late in autumn or often until mid winter.
It is found in the wild on both upland sites and flood plains usually in open woodlands. Hardy zones 9 to 10, it thrives best where average annual rainfall is 24 to 48 inches per year, though it will tolerate the occasional drought. It is native to moisture climates than the other South American Mesquites.

Prosopis africana
Reaches a maximum size of 66 feet.
The pinnate leaves, up to 6 inches in length, are composed of leaflets up to 1.3 inches in length.

Prosopis alba ( Argentine Mesquite )
Also called White Mesquite. A fast growing, dense, medium size semi-evergreen tree with pendulous branch tips, that is native to Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 7 feet; 2 years - 8 feet; 3 years - 14 feet; 8 years - 25 feet; largest on record - 60 x 100 feet with a trunk diameter of 5 feet.
It looks like a Gleditsia - Shademaster Locust with reddish bark and makes a stately shade tree in arid climates where it is adapted.
The compound leaves, up to 7 inches, are composed of 50 to 100 linear leaflets, up to 1 inches in length. The foliage is mid-green.
The creamy-white flowers are borne in racemes. They are followed by light yellow-brown seedpods, up to 10 inches in length.
The branch tips are sparsely armed with spines.
The bark is brown.
Hardy zones 8 to 10, tolerating as low as 10 F. Hardy in Tucson, AZ.
Very tolerant of heat, drought and salt.

'Colorado Thornless'
Thornless version

Prosopis chilensis ( Chilean Mesquite )
A rapid growing, dense, medium size evergreen tree native to Chile. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 7 feet; 4 years - 11 x 10 feet; largest on record - 55 x 100 feet with a trunk diameter of 3.5 feet.
The pinnate leaves are up to 5 inches long. The leaflets are large for a Mesquite, up to 2 inches in length.
It is hardy zones 8b+ and tolerates temperatures anywhere between 10 F and 112 F. It does best with deep infrequent watering thus not making it a good lawn tree.
There is also a thornless variety available that makes an excellent street tree for dry climates.

* photos taken on Jan 2007 in Santiago, Chile



* photos taken on Aug 24 2017 @ U.S. Botanic Garden, Wash. DC.


Prosopis cineraria ( Arabian Mesquite )
Also called Prosopis spicigera or Shami. A fast growing, rounded, medium-sized tree native to the driest parts of Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. It can Spread vigorously by root suckers. Root suckers have spread as much as 50 feet from original tree. Some records include: 1st year - 1 foot; 2 years - 1.9 feet; 11 years - 23 feet; largest on record - 60 feet in height with a trunk diameter of 4 feet. Arabian Mesquite has been recorded to have taproots as deep as 117 feet enabling them to survive extreme drought. It can live up to 400 years or more.
The pinnate leaves are composed of 7 to 14 leaflets up to 0.6 x 0.2 inches in size. The foliage is gray-green.
The creamy-yellow flowers are small.
Hardy zones 8b to 11 ( tolerating 16 F with no damage and surviving as low as 10 F ) in dry climates, it tolerates as little as 4 inches of rainfall per year. It thrives in parts of the U.S. southwest including Tucson, Arizona. Prefers soil PH from 6 to 9.8. It is tolerant of very salt and alkaline soil tolerant.

* photo of unknown internet source


Prosopis flexuosa
A spiny, small tree, reaching a maximum size of 40 feet, that is native to Chile, Argentina and dry valleys of the Bolivian Andes. It is considered a weed in parts of Argentina where it forms thickets on land used for livestock grazing. However a well grown tree also contributes valuable timber.
The lacy pinnate leaves are composed of linear leaflets. The foliage is mid-green.
The pods are up to 11.5 x 0.4 inches.
Hardy zones 8b to 10 ( tolerating 10 F ).

Prosopis glandulosa ( Honey Mesquite )
A spiny, crooked branched medium size tree native to the western and central U.S. ( from southern California to southwest Utah to central Nebraska; south into Mexico ). Some records include: 4 years - 20 feet; 20 years - 30 x 40 feet; largest on record - 70 x 90 feet with a trunk diameter of 5 feet; longest lived - 250 years.
An excellent shade tree in dry climates, especially in the central and western U.S. if trained and limbed up at a young age. It has invasive potential in Chile & Argentina ( use native South American Mesquites there ), South Africa and Australia and its use should be avoided there. Honey Mesquite is very deeply rooted, up to 60 feet in depth.
The bipinnate leaves are divided in to 2 or rarely 4 pinnae, up to 10 inches in length, are composed of up to 34 narrow elliptical leaflets, up to 1 x 0.25 inches.
The fragrant, fluffy, white to orange-yellow flowers are borne in slender spikes, up to 6 inches in length, during spring.
The nectar rich flowers attract honey bees.
They are followed by narrow, linear pods, up to 9 x 1 inches, that constrict between the seeds. The pods ripen during summer and can be harvested from mid summer to as late as September. They are sometimes produced so abundantly that they cover the ground beneath mature Mesquite trees. The pods are best immediately after they naturally fall off the tree and the quality varies from tree to tree. The pods are similar in flavor to that of a distant relative - the Carob tree ( Ceratonia siliqua ).
Mesquite pods can also be gathered before they ripened and be eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable. The entire pods ( incl. the seeds ) can also be dried and ground to a meal to make excellent flour. By throwing some pods on a barbecue you can add great flavor to cooked meats. Mesquite bread is very good and the flour can also be mixed with wheat flour to make other recipes including muffins. After grounding he pods to a meal, when you sift out the fibrous parts, do not throw them away. If you soak them in water to leach out the sugars - you can make a very good drink. Simply by boiling the pods for 20 minutes, you can make a good drink. Another drink can be made by mixing Mesquite flour with water.
Syrup every bit as good as Maple syrup can be made from boiling the pods.
The stems are armed with spines up to 2 inches in length. The bark is rich brown.
Old trees have very coarse bark with ragged ridges.
Mesquite wood is very hard but trees are often of too poor of form to make them commercially viable for lumber though they can be used for log cabin homes and rot resistant fence posts. Mesquite trees can be coppiced for fenceposts, poles and firewood which burns very hot.
Hardy zones 5 to 11. This tree is drought tolerant due to its deep roots.
It is also very heat tolerant as well as alkaline soil tolerant but shrubby on shallow soil. Mature Mesquite should be irrigated during extended severe drought only.
Honey Mesquite is not known to grow in the humid eastern U.S.

* photo of unknown internet source

* photos of unknown internet source

* historic archive photo


'Maverick'
Thornless

subsp 'torreyana'
Some records include: 3 years - 9 feet; 5 years - 12 feet; 6 years - 18 feet; 15 years - 22 feet; largest on record - 33 x 83 feet with a trunk diameter of 3 feet.
Has shorter leaves than regular Honey Mesquite.
Hardy at 15 F in Tucson

Prosopis juliflora
Description under construction. Some records include: largest on record - 50 feet with a trunk diameter of 3 feet. It can survive on as little as 6 inches of rainfall per year once it develops a deep taproot.

* photo taken by R.L. Hensel @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

* historic archive photo


Prosopis laevigata ( Smooth Mesquite )
A small tree that is native to central Mexico.
Some records include: 3 years - 5.5 feet; 4 years - 7 feet; 6 years - 11 feet; 10 years - 17 feet; 15 years - 20 feet.
The pinnate leaves are composed of many narrow oblong leaflets.
Hardy zones 8b to 10 ( no freeze damage at 15 F in Tucson, AZ ).

Prosopis nigra ( Black Mesquite )
A medium-sized evergreen tree native to Argentina and Paraguay in South America.
Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 4 feet; 3 years - 7 feet; 5 years - 10 feet; 9 years - 12 feet; 15 years - 15 feet; largest on record - 52 x 40 feet with a trunk diameter of 4 feet.
It is a stately shade tree in the arid climates where it is adapted.
The leaves, up to 8 inches in length, are composed of deep green leaflets.
The valuable wood is dark brown and very heavy. The wood is used to make furniture.
Hardy zones 8b to 10 ( no damage at 15 F ). It is tolerant of both severe drought and prolonged flooding, making it a great tree for river floodplains in desert regions.

* photo of unknown internet source


Prosopis pallida ( Algaroba )
A thorny, domed, medium-size tree native to northwest South America. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 40 inches; 3 years - 4 feet; 21 years - trunk diameter of 15 inches; 70 years - 85 feet with a trunk diameter of 3.5 feet; largest on record - 90 x 85 feet with a trunk diameter of 6.6 feet. It has escaped into the wild and is now naturalized in Hawaii where it is invasive despite being a great shade tree in drier climates.
The pinnate leaves are composed of 8 to 18 pairs of narrow oblong leaflets.
The greenish-yellow flowers are borne in dense racemes during spring.
They are followed by linear pods up to 8 inches in length. The pods are edible and can be made into a sweet tasting drink.
Hardy zones 8 to 10 requiring between 10 and 50 inches of average yearly rainfall.

* photo of unknown internet source


Prosopis pubescens ( Screwbean Mesquite )
An extremely vigorous small tree native to bottomlands in the southwestern U.S. ( from southeastern California to western Texas; south to the border regions of Mexico ). Some records include: 2 years - 11 feet; 3 years - 15 feet; 5 years - 18 feet; 8 years - 25 feet; largest on record - 40 x 40 feet with a trunk diameter of 1.3 feet. An excellent shade tree for dry climates.
The bipinnate leaves, up to 8 inches long, are divided in to 2 or rarely 4 pinnae up to 2 inches, are composed of 5 to 9 pairs of tiny leaflets.
The fragrant, fluffy, greenish-white flowers are borne in slender spikes, up to 3 inches in length, durign spring.
They are followed by yellowish, narrow spiraled pods up to 2 inches in length.
The pods ripen during late summer but persist into late autumn. The pods, often eaten right off the tree, are even better tasting and sugar rich than those of Prosopis glandulosa.
The stems are armed with axilliary spines up to 2 inches in length. The bark is rich brown.
Hardy zone 7 to 9 tolerating as low as 0 F. Very heat and drought tolerant.
It is dying out in some parts of its native range due to the pumping of groundwater.

'Thornless'
Fast growing, semi-evergreen and thornless.

Prosopis tamaruga ( Atacama Mesquite )
A very fast growing medium size tree native to salt flats of the Atacama Desert in Chile where it is now endangered, it once formed vast forests here in the driest place on earth. The taproot that penetrates up to 50 feet in depth also makes this one of the worlds most drought hardy trees.
Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 7 feet; 3 years - 3.5 feet; 20 years - trunk diameter of 16 inches; largest on record - 65 x 60 feet with a trunk diameter of 5 feet; longest lived - 1000 years. The Atacama Mesquite is a very attractive tree that resembles the Honeylocust in appearance from a distance.
It has been planted in Spain and should be attempted in other dry regions such as Saudi Arabia and Africa's Sahara Desert.
The leaves are small, up to 1.5 inches in length.
The stems are armed with very sharp white spines.
No freeze damage noted at Tucson. Water every 10 days for the first year, every 30 days for the 2nd, cutting back after unless rapid growth is desired then it can be continued at once a month for the duration of the growing season, less while dormant.
This tree prefers soil PH 6.8 to 8.4 and responds very well to phosphorous fertilizer. Extremely salt tolerant.

Prosopis velutina ( Velvet Mesquite )
A fast growing, dense, deciduous, broad crowned tree native from southern California to eastern New Mexico; south to Sonora, Mexico.
Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 4 feet; 2 years - 6 feet; 3 years - 10 feet; 5 years - 13 feet; 8 years - 16 feet; 12 years - 19 feet; largest on record - 60 x 60 feet with a trunk diameter of 5.5 feet.
A very attractive shade tree in arid climates where it is adapted and is commonly used in landscaping in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. It is among the most drought tolerant of all landscape shade trees but will sometimes drop its leaves during summer in cases of extreme drought ( a deep watering once of twice a month should prevent this and induce vigor ).
The pinnate leaves, up to 6 inches, are composed of 15 to 20 pairs of linear leaflets, up to 1 inch in length. The leaves close up at night. The foliage is deep green.
The fluffy golden-yellow flowers are borne in racemes up to 6 inches in length during summer.
They are followed by linear seed pods up to 12 inches in length, that are edible and sweet tasting.
The stems are viciously armed with yellowish spines up to 3 inches in length.
The bark on young trees is smooth and reddish-brown. On older trees it becomes shredded and gray-brown. The wood is popular for flavoring grilled meat.
Hardy zone 7 to 9 tolerating as low as 0 F. No freeze damage noted at Tucson.
Extremely drought tolerant, roots have been found as deep as 175 feet!
It is not known to grow in the humid eastern U.S.

* photo of unknown internet source

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