Mesquite: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Prosopis

Many; see text.

Mesquite (from Nahuatl mizquitl) is a leguminous plant of the Prosopis genus found in Northern Mexico and the Western United States as far North as the Sonoran desert. Mesquite trees are also found in the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico.



Legumes of the Chilean mesquite (Prosopis chilensis)

These deciduous trees generally reach a height of 6 to 9 m (20 to 30 ft), although in most of their range they are shrub size. They have narrow, bipinnately compound leaves 50 to 75 mm (2 to 3 in) long, of which the pinnules are sharply pointed. Twigs have a characteristic zig-zag form. Some common species of mesquite are honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina), creeping mesquite (Prosopis strombulifera), and screwbean mesquite (Prosopis pubescens).

Mesquite is an extremely hardy, drought-tolerant plant[1] because it can draw water from the water table through its long taproot (recorded at up to 190 ft {58 m} depth).[2] However, it can also use water in the upper part of the ground, depending upon availability.[3] The tree can easily and rapidly switch from utilizing one water source to the other.[3]

Many people, especially ranchers, consider the tree a nuisance because they believe it competes with rangeland grasses for moisture.[3] In many parts of Texas, particularly West and Central Texas, the proliferation of mesquite is blamed for lowering of groundwater tables.[4] However, salt cedar has had a greater effect on water consumption, in some cases even displacing existing mesquite.[3][5][6]

Mesquite thorns

Eradicating mesquite is difficult because the plant's bud regeneration zone can extend down to 6 inches (150 mm) below ground level.[7][8] The tree can regenerate from a piece of root left in the soil.[7] Some herbicides are not effective or only partially effective against mesquite. Grubbing techniques for removal, while effective against short-term regrowth, are expensive, costing upwards of $70/acre ($17,000/km²).

New growth of mesquite has needle-sharp thorns up to 75 mm (3 in) long. The spines are tough enough to penetrate the soft soles of sneakers or similar footwear and can easily puncture tires. Fortunately older branches lose their spine as they grow, making it safer around children, pets, and animals.

Ecology and Ethnobotany

Bee forage

The tree's flowers provide a nectar source for bees to produce mesquite honey (monofloral honey), which has a characteristic flavour.


Mesquite trees grow quickly and furnish shade and wildlife habitat where other trees will not grow. Being a legume, it fixes nitrogen in the soil where it grows, although this is rather newly discovered and is still a poorly understood part of its life cycle.[9]


The bean pods of the mesquite can be dried and ground into flour, adding a sweet, nutty taste to breads, or used to make jelly or wine.

When used in baking, the mesquite bean flour is used in combination with other flours – substitute ¼ cup-to-½ cup mesquite flour for each cup grain flour. Mesquite bean flour is used in breads, pancakes, muffins, cakes and even cookies. Mesquite powder is also high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc, and is rich in the amino acid lysine. [10]

Wild animals also eat mesquite bean pods. In places like Death Valley and much of the Sonoran Desert coyote feces consisting almost entirely of mesquite beans and pods can often be seen.

Traditional medicine

Mesquite leaves were once used medicinally; water infused with the leaves can be used as eye drops.


Mesquite wood is hard, allowing it to be used for furniture and implements. Wood from Prosopis juliflora and Prosopis glandulosa is used for decorative woodworking and woodturning. It is highly desirable due to its dimensional stability, after being fully cured. The hard, dense lumber is also sold as Texas Ironwood and is rather harsh on saws, chain saws, and other tools. It must be noted, however, that mequite and Ironwood are different species.

As firewood, mesquite burns slow and very hot. When used to barbecue, the smoke from the wood adds a distinct flavor to the food. This is common in Texas-style barbecue, while in the Southeast, hickory is usually used.

Mesquite-wood roasting or grilling is used to smoke-flavor steaks, chicken, pork, and fish. Mesquite smoke flavoring can be added to vegetable stir-fries, scrambled eggs, soups, and even ice cream.

As an introduced species

The species Prosopis pallida was introduced to Hawaii in 1828 and is now very common in the drier coastal parts of the islands, where it is called the Kiawe tree, which is a prime source of monofloral honey production.[11]

Mesquite has also been introduced to parts of Africa,[12] Asia and Australia and is considered by the World Conservation Union as one of the world's most problematic invasive species.[13]


See also


  • Rogers, Ken E. (2000). The Magnificent Mesquite. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0292771053. OCLC 43036762.  


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

There is more than one place called Mesquite:

United States of America

This article is a disambiguation page. If you arrived here by following a link from another page you can help by correcting it, so that it points to the appropriate disambiguated page.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MESQUITE, or Honey Locust, in botany, a tree, native of the southern United States and extending southwards through Mexico and the Andean region to Chile and the Argentine Republic. It is known botanically as Prosopis juliflora, and belongs to the natural order Leguminosae (suborder Mimoseae). It reaches 40 or so ft. in height with a trunk usually not more than 6 to 12 in. in diameter, and divided a short distance above the ground into numerous irregular crooked branches forming a loose straggling head. The remarkable development of its main root in relation to water-supply renders it most valuable as a dry-country plant; the root descends to a great depth in search of water, and does not branch or decrease much in diameter till this is reached. It can thus flourish where no other woody plant can exist, and its presence and condition afford almost certain indications of the depth of the water-level. When the plant attains the size of a tree, water will be found within 4 o or 50 ft. of the surface; when it grows as a bush, between so or 60 ft.; while, when the roots have to descend below 60 ft., the stems are only 2 or 3 ft. high. These woody roots supply valuable fuel in regions where no wood of fuel value is produced above ground. The leaves are compound, the main axis bearing two or sometimes four secondary axes on which are borne a number of pairs of narrow bluntish leaflets. The minute greenish-white fragrant flowers are densely crowded on slender cylindrical spikes from 12 to 4 in. long; the long narrow pods are constricted between the seeds, of which they contain from ten to thirty surrounded by a thick spongy layer of sweet pulp. The wood is heavy, hard and close-grained, but not very strong; it is almost indestructible in contact with soil, and is largely used for fence-posts and railway ties. The ripe pods supply the Mexicans and Indians with a nutritious food; and a gum resembling gum arabic exudes from the stem.

An allied species Prosopis pubescens, a small tree or tall shrub, native of the arid regions of the south-western United States, is known as the screw-bean or screw-pod mesquite from the fact that the pods are twisted into a dense screw-like spiral; they are used for fodder and are sweet and nutritious, but smaller and less valuable than those of the mesquite.

For a fuller account of these trees see Charles Sprague Sargent, Silva of North America, iii. p. 99 (1892).

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also mesquite


Proper noun

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  1. a city (now a suburb of Dallas) in Texas

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