Mesquite trees belong in Arizona. As Jay Sharp, editor and creator for the web site, expresses, “the mesquites symbolize our Southwestern deserts” as significantly as “the Coyote, the Black-tail Jackrabbit, the Western Diamondback, scorpions, the Saguaro and prickly pear cacti.” Certainly, mesquite trees in Arizona are “as blended into the daily life of the land as cornbread and tortillas.” (Lometa)

Correctly Tailored to the Desert

Mesquites are quite hardy desert trees, possessing adapted about the centuries to daily life in the desert landscapes in and around Arizona. All of their physical characteristics be certain their survival listed here, which include their foliage, their bean pods, and their root systems. They develop properly in whole solar and higher temperatures, but will also tolerate the cold through Arizona’s winter season (down to 0º Fahrenheit). They are from time to time uncovered in somewhat higher elevation and will adapt to shallow rocky soils. According to reports by the U. S. Office of Agriculture and Forest Assistance, a mesquite tree can are living for far more than two centuries. (Sharp)

Mesquite trees in Arizona can survive in spots that receive quite tiny rainfall simply because of their expansive root process. The lateral roots of a mesquite tree get to out numerous times farther than its canopy. They also have quite deep tap roots that can dig for a consume as deep as 175 feet below ground level, while a depth of fifty feet is far more standard. So, they simultaneously have entry to water both of those at the quite major and bottom levels of the soil.

The very small waxy leaflets of mesquite trees retain treasured moisture by reducing the moisture shed as a result of transpiration. They are deciduous trees, which means they offer superb shade through the summer months but drop their leaves and allow the sunshine as a result of through the winter season for heat. During extreme drought, they will diminish transpiration even additional by prematurely dropping their leaves.

The mesquite tree is a member of the legume household (family members of beans and peas), which would make it in particular adapted to an arid atmosphere. Mesquite trees have the skill to fertilize on their own and surrounding vegetation as a result of a symbiotic romance with colonies of soil microbes. The microbes that inhabit mesquite tree roots transform or “deal with” atmospheric nitrogen, producing accessible in the soil this mineral that is necessary for the expansion and germination of vegetation. A lot of gardeners benefit from this same approach to enrich soil by planting nitrogen fixing cover crops. (Sharp, Schalau)

Mesquite trees in Arizona are incredibly prolific. Their beans, encased in protective pods, are quite resilient. In point, “A seed still left undisturbed in its pod can remain practical for up to forty several years.” (Clayton) Animals engage in an vital job in the scarification of the seeds (desired for germination) and dispersal as a result of fecal issue.

Visual appearance

Mesquite trees are easy to recognize, hunting practically like a big fern bush. They can get to a height of thirty feet, but the average mesquite tree rising wild in the Arizona desert is about 50 percent that dimension. A lot of have various trunks. Underneath the harshest of conditions, the mesquite will resemble a bush far more than a tree. Their department construction is normally quite twisted and jointed, introducing to their specific uniqueness. In the spring and early summer months, they display screen clusters of finger-shaped protuberances included in very small fragile bouquets. These are adopted by the formation of the lengthy, skinny bean pods, which are usually a shade of brown but fluctuate in physical appearance involving species. A lot of sorts of mesquite trees have thorns of some sort, which can possibly be quite brief or monstrous in duration (and all are horribly sharp!).

3 Arizona Mesquite Tree Natives & Their Cousins

There are about forty mesquite types uncovered around the globe, but three species are indigenous to the condition of Arizona. They develop not only in the Sonoran desert, but also in the Mojave and Chihuahuan deserts. Their array is astonishing, spanning tens of hundreds of thousands or acres from western Texas to California, from Mexico to southern components of Utah. They can prosper in a great diversity of habitats as uncovered within just the array explained. (Lometa, Sharp)

The three mesquite tree species indigenous to Arizona are:

  • Prosopis glandulosa – recognized as the honey mesquite or Texas Mesquite. These usually have a weeping kind, and can be very really.
  • Prosopis velutina – recognized as the Arizona mesquite or indigenous mesquite. Also termed the velvet mesquite simply because of the gentle hairs that cover younger expansion. They are somewhat shaggy and snarled in physical appearance. They are well known in nurseries, and will develop properly on lawns and golfing programs.
  • Prosopis pubescens – recognized as the screwbean mesquite, earning its identify from the spiraled or coiled shape of their seed pods.

In addition to these three, there are numerous other sorts of mesquite trees that develop in Arizona. A lot of are hybrids of the honey, velvet or screwbean mesquite, developing largely the place the respective ranges of these indigenous species overlap. Many others are nonnative mesquite species, most originating from South America. There is the Argentine mesquite (Prosopis alba), the Chilean mesquite (Prosopis chilensis), and several other types and their hybrids. No nonnative species will be as suited to the weather listed here as the mesquites that are indigenous to Arizona. For case in point, the Chilean mesquite does not appear to be as tolerant of the decreased winter season temperatures in Arizona.

Botanical Foes

Even with their numerous favourable characteristics, mesquite trees are viewed as by numerous as an invasive weed. In numerous nations around the world outdoors of North and South America the place they have been introduced they have been really invasive and troublesome, in particular in Australia.

The mesquite tree is cursed by inhabitants of our have Arizona desert as properly. Cattlemen in particular dislike them, but the overgrazing of their herds about the previous pair of centuries has exacerbated the quite problem that they complain about, which is the mesquite tree’s competitors with grasses. In an region that is overgrazed, cattle not only threaten the populations of the organic grasses that contend with mesquite trees for water, but they also help the mesquites spread by consuming and dispersing the seeds. As Frank Dobie places it, “The white guy sowed with about-grazing he is now reaping thickets of mesquites that are stabbing hundreds of thousands of acres of land into non-productiveness.” All endeavours to thwart or regulate this stubborn indigenous Arizona tree have all unsuccessful and been considered impractical or ineffective. No matter if by fire, herbicide use, or physical tree removal of a variety of means, the costs and environmental facet results of striving to regulate the inhabitants and spread of the mesquite have designed it a problem with no easy solution.

Sharp reminds us: “Uninvited visitor or welcome neighbor, the mesquites belong to the desert.  They developed in the desert.  They engage in a core job in the desert ecosystem.” (Jay Sharp)

Historic Importance and Contemporary Takes advantage of

“Over the previous many centuries, no one plant has possibly performed a better and far more critical job in the lives of humankind in the southwestern United States than the brief stature, crooked mesquite.” (excerpted from The Outstanding Mesquite by Ken E. Rogers.) Certainly, the mesquite trees strewn throughout the Southwest have virtually saved several lives. They supplied the “manna from heaven” for the suffering guys of the 1841 Texas Santa Fe Expedition, as recorded in the journal of George W. Kendall (also quoted by Rogers). The beans are sweet and wholesome, and far more protein-abundant than the soybean. (Lometa)

One more food that arrives from the mesquite trees in Arizona (while not immediately) is honey. The swarms of bees that are strongly attracted to the mesquite flower’s nectar do far more than just fill their vital job as pollinators, soon after all. This, on the other hand, does not comprehensive the list of foods derived from the mesquite. Even their sap has been utilized as sweet gum or as black dye.

‘Pinole’ is designed by grinding the pods, with or with out the beans nevertheless inside. It can be used as 4 or, simply because of its sweetness, as a condiment or spice. This mesquite flour is explained to be wholesome for diabetics, simply because it is sweetened by fructose, which the overall body procedures with out insulin. This is just one case in point of the numerous digestive and dietary pros of the mesquite tree and other foods of the desert that has been found. (Lometa)

Different components of the mesquite tree have also been used as therapies for numerous distinct conditions by the Indians and settlers of the frontier era. Illustrations of the conditions that the mesquite tree served to relieve or heal are: diarrhea, dysentery, colic, flesh wounds, head aches, ailing eyes, and sore throat.

The wood, bark and pods of mesquite trees are popularly used for barbecue and for other functions. The dry wood burns sluggish, hot and with quite tiny smoke. It has an unmistakable aroma. Some insist that burning the pods along with the charcoal and wood chips make the taste even richer. (Lometa) In addition to for warmth and for cooking, the wood has been used for the development of Spanish missions, colonial haciendas, ranch homes and fencing. (Sharp) The Native Individuals used the difficult mesquite wood for spears and arrowheads, and the bark of the mesquite tree for producing baskets and materials. The thorns ended up used as needles. Now the wood is artistically useful for producing home furnishings or sculpture simply because of its from time to time dark hues and wonderful gnarled designs.

Of program, mesquite trees in Arizona are advantageous not only to human beings but also to our wildlife. Animals use the mesquite as shelter, habitat and food. In the late summer months and slide, mesquite beans make up as significantly as 80 per cent of the coyote’s diet program!  The bean pods also can provide as fodder for livestock when the grasses are insufficient.

Routine maintenance, Complications and Treatment plans

Although mesquite trees in Arizona do not have to have significantly maintenance, the specimens rising around our properties could gain from a tiny added care through unusually very hot summers or times of prolonged drought. Sun-scorch is one of the quite couple difficulties that can plague mesquite trees planted as section of landscaping, while they are not as vulnerable to this as are citrus and other fruit trees in Arizona. Infrequent but deep watering and occasional fertilizing will help be certain that the mesquites around our properties do not experience a drop of health and fitness and natural beauty.

During several years when Arizona gets abundant rainfall, mesquite trees do not need to have added watering. Even so, in times of drought, the leaves will come to be sparse and allow far more daylight as a result of to the branches. This is exacerbated by the need to have in the town to hold mesquite trees thinned out to survive storms and weighty winds, so as not to induce damage to properties and other structures. If the bark is exposed to as well significantly rigorous solar, solar-scorch may possibly manifest, in particular the place the daylight is most direct (i.e. on the major of horizontal branches at midday). Sun-scorch results in long lasting damage to the cambium, or the sapwood layer beneath the bark. The cracked bark and lifeless tissues ensuing from significant solar-scorch can direct to secondary infections and infestations, such as bark beetles and a fungus termed ‘sooty canker’.

Sun-scorch on mesquite trees in Arizona can be prevented but not undone. Reflective paint on the most vulnerable branches will lessen a mesquite tree’s prospects of becoming solar-broken. Branches already impacted ought to be taken off again to a department with wholesome tissues. The best way to reduce solar-scorch is to persuade leafy expansion to guard the tree during the hotter section of the 12 months by some watering and by light-weight fertilizing. Give the mesquite trees ammonium sulfate the moment in the springtime. Unless already fed by drippers or sprinklers (whether or not in your have or in a neighboring lawn), water them deeply each two months from early spring to early slide. If the monsoons deliver enough water, skip deep-watering through this time period.

A mesquite tree that is planted in someone’s lawn may possibly not be as hardy as the volunteer trees rising wild in the desert. Most possible, a nursery-grown mesquite tree planted for landscaping functions has invested some time in a pot. The far more time any tree spends in a pot, the far more possible it is to come to be root-sure. An impaired root process would make for a mesquite tree that not only struggles to receive what tiny water they need to have to prosper, but also is far more prone to slipping about simply because their ‘anchoring’ is not as strong. John Begeman states, “Check out as you may possibly, it is difficult to get a wobbly tree to anchor in the ground. By putting up more powerful stakes and wires, righting the tree when it falls about, […] you are just prolonging the inescapable. […] The best issue to do with an unstable tree is to get rid of it and start out about with a wholesome specimen.” Remember to refer to his short article entitled Take out Wobbly Mesquite Trees [] for far more information on the topic.

If practically nothing else, I hope that this short article on mesquite trees in Arizona boosts some Arizonans’ appreciation for this indigenous plant as a little something that undeniably belongs in this desert we phone residence.

“Primroses melt away their yellow fires

Where by grass and roadway meet

Feathered and tasseled like a queen,

Is each outdated mesquite.”

-J. Frank Dobie


Begeman, John. “Take out Wobbly Mesquite Trees.” Arid-Southwestern Gardening Facts. Sep 2003.

Begeman, John. “Sun-Scorched Mesquite and Palo Verde.” Arid-Southwestern Gardening Facts. Mar 2000.

Clayton, Robin N. “Velvet Mesquite Tree.” Arizona Highways.

Dobie, Frank J. “The Mesquite.” Arizona Highways. Nov 1941.

Lometa. “Mesquite (Issue).” Everything2. Aug 2002.

Shalau, Jeff. “Regard the Mesquite Tree.” Backyard Gardener. Jan 2007.

Sharp, Jay W. “The Mesquite: One thing that Belongs.” DesertUSA.

Source by Claire Charlton