What Is a Mesquite Tree?

Save

The mesquite tree is one of the most common trees of the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. It is a member of the legume family of plants which includes peanuts, alfalfa, clover, and beans. Perfectly adapted for its dry environment, the mesquite is a hardy tree. Here is the lowdown on the mesquite tree.

Geography

  • The mesquite grows in the northern parts of Mexico including the Chihuahuan Desert, which is a mountainous desert region that is on the US-Mexico border. The mesquite thrives from its Mexican range all the way through Texas and up into the southwestern portions of Kansas. It extends from the Sonoran Desert in southern California to southwestern Utah. Most of the places that you will find mesquite trees in have a low annual rainfall.

Types

  • There are three types of mesquite tree that grow in this region. One is the honey mesquite, another is the screwbean mesquite, and finally there is the velvet mesquite. The honey mesquite gets its name from its fragrant flowers. The screwbean mesquite is so named because it has screw-like pods. The velvet mesquite has leaflets which feel velvety to the touch.

Size

  • The honey mesquite can grow to 20 feet in height with a trunk that is a foot in diameter. Like the other mesquite species it has spines; they are 3 inches long and occur along the branches. The narrow leaves are pointed and are 2 to 3 inches long. The screwbean also can get as large as 20 feet. It has a 2-inch fruit that develops from its flowers that resembles the spiraling shape of a screw. The velvet mesquite is bigger than the other two, with a diameter that can reach 2 feet and growing to an average of 30 feet. It has 4-inch long spikes and an 8-inch fruit, like the honey mesquite does.

Features

  • Mesquite trees have a long taproot that they use to locate enough moisture to keep them alive. This feature allows them to survive through droughts. There are recorded instances of taproots of the mesquite tree reaching a depth of almost 200 feet down into the soil. The roots of the mesquite can regenerate if the tree is chopped off above, making the mesquite one tough tree to get rid of. Ranchers feel that the mesquite sucks water from the land that could be used for livestock and farming, making it unpopular with those individuals.

Benefits

  • The benefits of the mesquite tree far outweigh any perceived shortcomings. The wood is very hard and it is used in making furniture and tool handles. The flowers from the mesquite species provide bees with nectar to produce honey. They grow rapidly and are a shade source for animals. The bean pods they produce can be turned into flour and used for baking. Animals can eat the fruit; coyotes survive almost exclusively on mesquite pods during the winter months. Mesquite wood used for firewood burns slowly and generates great heat; it is used to barbecue food in the southwest and lends a distinct flavor to whatever is cooked over it.

  • Photo Credit www.nps.gov
Promoted By Zergnet

Comments

You May Also Like

  • Mesquite Tree Facts

    Mesquite trees are a common sight in desert areas. These trees help restore nitrogen to the soil and produce bean pods that...

  • How to Prune Mesquite Trees

    Sprawling, contorted mesquite trees (Prosopis spp.) present a distinctive profile where they grow in the southwest United States and Mexico. Only one...

  • How to Use Mesquite Wood Chips for BBQ

    Using the right wood for smoking and cooking greatly enhances the flavor of any meat you prepare on a barbecue grill. Mesquite...

  • How to Kill Mesquite Trees in Texas

    Mesquite trees are one of the most common trees found in Texas. Ranchers in Texas dislike mesquite greatly because it takes over...

  • How Long Does it Take to Grow a Mesquite Tree?

    Mesquite trees grow prolifically throughout the Southwestern United States where, throughout the last century, cattle and animals have significantly spread seed. How...

  • Facts About the Chilean Mesquite Tree

    Chilean mesquite trees (Prosopis chilensis and hybrids) dominate urban landscapes in the American Southwest. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness...

  • Is Mesquite Tree Seed Poisonous?

    Mesquite trees are in the pea family. Most Sonoran desert trees are legumes, including the mesquite. While the hard, inner seed itself...

  • Varieties Of Mesquite

    In the American Southwest, mesquite trees are popular for landscaping, as they are hardy and tolerant of drought. They can draw water...

Related Searches

Check It Out

How to Build and Grow a Salad Garden On Your Balcony

M
Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!