Honey Mesquita Tree Facts:
The name “honey mesquite” comes from the fact that it grows on mesquite trees. It is a member of the mint family. Its common names are cottonwood and willow mesquitos (in Mexico). It is native to southern Arizona, northern New Mexico, northwestern Texas, southeastern Colorado and southwestern Utah.
It is one of the most widely distributed trees in North America. It was first introduced into Arizona by Spanish explorers in 1540. It became popular as a ornamental tree during the 19th century.
Its range extends from California southward through much of the United States and into Mexico.
It is a fast growing tree that reaches heights of 40 feet or more. It requires full sun and moist soil. It prefers dry sites but can grow in some areas with regular moisture.
There are two species of honey mesquite; the Mexican and the American varieties. They differ mainly in their leaves, bark color, leaf shape, size and number of leaflets per stem.
The trees have a shallow root system that is generally less than 10 feet deep.
It is a hardy tree, not easily destroyed by heavy winds or droughts.
The honey mesquite is an important browse plant for numerous animals, especially desert livestock. Its small seed size makes it a favorite among birds and other small desert creatures.
The wood of the tree is extremely hard and dense, making it valuable as firewood and for carving.
Honey Mesquite Facts
Honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) is a small, multi-branched tree with drought and heat tolerance. It is closely related to the Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina), but has smaller leaves, flowers, and pods.
The tree is fairly short, rarely exceeding 20 feet, and has a twisted trunk. It can grow in clumps or thickets, and flowers in the spring.
The leaves are green on both sides and can range from 1 to 4 inches long. They are pinnately compound or divided into 25-43 pairs of leaflets about 1 inch long.
The woody seed pods are 3- to 6-inch long, spindle-shaped, with a small tip. They contain 2 to 8 seeds that are round and about 1/4 inch in diameter.
Honey Mesquite pods remain on the tree between one and two years, during which time the seeds mature. The pods then break open, releasing the seeds.
Both species have a taproot system that can reach 10 feet into the soil. The roots generally do not extend more than a foot beyond the base of the tree.
The Honey Mesquite is able to withstand severe droughts and once established, it can survive with little moisture. The tree has a thick thatch of roots that extend out in all directions from the base of the tree, making it one of the best soil stabilizers in the desert.
Honey Mesquite trees are deciduous, which means that they lose their leaves during the winter, unlike the evergreens like pinyon pines and junipers.
Honey Mesquites are extremely hardy and can grow in the most arid conditions. The tree has deep taproots that can reach water up to 30 feet below the surface.
The wood of the honey mesquite is brittle, hard, and strong. It is durable in contact with soil and water and is used for fence posts, mineshafts, and railroad ties. The leaves are used by some Native Americans as a substitute for tobacco.
Honey Mesquite trees are very common across the southwestern United States, especially in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The tree grows in many different soils and environments. It is a valuable resource for wildlife and livestock in arid regions.
The honey mesquite is the state tree of Arizona.
The honey mesquite pod is sweet and edible, with a taste similar to a mix of apples, coconut, and pecans. The flavor depends on the soil that the tree grows in.
The honey mesquite pod is high in protein, carbohydrates, and dietary fiber.
Honey Mesquite leaves can be used for livestock feed when other forage is not available.
Honey Mesquite wood is fast burning and can be used as firewood.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Effect of fire on honey mesquite. by HA Wright, SC Bunting… – Rangeland Ecology & …, 1976 – journals.uair.arizona.edu
Above-ground biomass yields at different densities of honey mesquite. by JD Laxson, WH Schacht… – Rangeland Ecology & …, 1997 – journals.uair.arizona.edu
Biomass accumulation and radiation use efficiency of honey mesquite and eastern red cedar by JR Kiniry – Biomass and Bioenergy, 1998 – Elsevier
Some observations from the excavation of honey mesquite root systems. by RK Heitschmidt, RJ Ansley… – … /Journal of Range …, 1988 – journals.uair.arizona.edu
Plant ecophysiology: a case study of honey mesquite by RE Sosebee, C Wan – Proceedings of the Symposium of Shrub …, 1989 – books.google.com
Phenology of warm desert phreatophytes: seasonal growth and herbivory in Prosopis glandulosa var. torreyana (honey mesquite. by ET Nilsen, MR Sharifi, RA Virginia… – Journal of Arid …, 1987 – cabdirect.org