They play a core role in the desert ecosystem. “It comes as near being characteristic of the whole Southwest, including much of Mexico, as any species of plant life known to the region,” said Dobie. Although often crooked in shape, mesquite tree branches, stable and durable, filled the need for wood during the construction of Spanish missions, colonial haciendas, ranch houses and fencing. Gluten Free, Home  | About | Contact Us | Feedback | Privacy | Site Outline | Advertising on DesertUSA | Aquis Towels | Hotels. It proved to be a perfect formula for expansion. (Note: Medical studies of mesquite and other desert foods say that despite its sweetness, mesquite flour (made by grinding whole pods) "is extremely effective in controlling blood sugar levels" in people with diabetes. The narrow leaves are pointed and are 2 to 3 inches long. Mesquites grew up along the historic cattle trails, defining the routes to this day. In the frontier days, according to Dobie, mesquites were used by the Indians and the settlers as a source of many remedies for a host of ailments. Their thorns, sharply pointed and strong, challenge browsing by desert herbivores. It is a member of the legume family of plants which includes peanuts, alfalfa, clover, and beans. In many areas, the opportunistic mesquites moved in to displace grasses. The mesquite tree is one of the most common trees of the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. “Fire has been used as a management tool to control mesquite distribution for decades” said Wilson and his associates. They produce pods that contain hard and long-lasting seeds that must be scarified (cut or slit) before they will germinate. Mesquite blooms, pollinated by bees, yield a connoisseur’s honey. Mesquite trees, at least the honey mesquites that are prevalent in the Lone Star State, are really "trees" in name only. Mesquites, including the three species in our southwestern deserts, belong to the legume family, which ranks near the top of plants especially adapted to an arid environment. The sweetness comes from fructose, which the body can process without insulin. Further, mesquites remained contained by frequent wildfires fueled by the grasses, which recovered within a season. Mesquite trees have a long taproot that they use to locate enough moisture to keep them alive. It has extremely long roots to seek water from very far under ground. The wood is very hard and it is used in making furniture and tool handles. During the Ice Ages, which lasted from about 1.8 million to some 10,000 years ago, the mesquites “coevolved with large herbivores, such as mastodons and ground sloths, which ate the pods and then dispersed them widely in their feces,” said the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Internet site. Perfectly adapted for its dry environment, the mesquite is a hardy tree. Mesquites grow wide-spreading and deep-reaching root systems that host colonies of bacteria that can fix nitrogen, one of the minerals most important to plant germination and growth. They not only produce beans and blooms that attract wildlife, they provide perches and nesting sites for birds, including hummingbirds. (“They will not decay in the flesh or gristle as will prickly pear thorns,” Dobie said, “but will last longer than any flesh in which they become imbedded.”) Their leaves, small and wax coated, minimize transpiration (evaporation of the plant’s water into the atmosphere). The screwbean also can get as large as 20 feet. During extreme drought, the mesquites may shed their leaves to further conserve moisture. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11, the trees woo homeowners with fast growth and graceful form. “Of the tree mesquite,” said Dobie, “there is one kind of yellowish wood and another of a deep reddish hue as beautiful when polished as the richest mahogany.” In some areas, mesquites provide a bountiful harvest of wood for use in fireplaces and barbecue grills. They evolved in the desert. They grow rapidly and are a shade source for animals. Wherever it grows, it's hardy and persistent. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. Most notably, mesquites’ root systems give the plants a competitive botanical edge in the desert landscape. In lateral reach, they outcompete other plants in the battle for soil moisture. Over time, mesquites expanded their range to correspond largely with the herbivores’ range, which extended from flood plains and washes up into prairies, mesas and mountain slopes. It belongs to Prosopis genus, which comprises more than 40 species. (see Reference 1) They are in the bean family. "The gel-forming fiber allows foods to be slowly digested and absorbed over a four- to six-hour period, rather than in one or two hours, which produces a rapid rise in blood sugar," Mesquite meal is sold in DesertUSA's online store.). Mesquite meal offers a sweet, chocolate/coffee flavor with a hint of cinnamon. Mesquites, including the three species in our southwestern deserts, belong to the legume family, which ranks near the top of plants especially adapted to an arid environment. The screwbean mesquite, identified by its tightly spiraled bean pods, has established as its basic range the northern Sonoran Desert up into the Mojave Desert. Mesquite meal or flour, is made by finely milling the seeds and pods of the mesquite tree. The flowers from the mesquite species provide bees with nectar to produce honey. This feature allows them to survive through droughts. It has 4-inch long spikes and an 8-inch fruit, like the honey mesquite does. Mesquite beans became “manna from heaven” for the suffering men of the 1841 Texas Santa Fe Expedition said George W. Kendall (quoted by Ken E. Rogers in The Magnificent Mesquite) in his journal. Chilean Mesquite Trees. It extends from the Sonoran Desert in southern California to southwestern Utah. To the partakers, the dish is a great banquet.”. There are three common species of mesquite: honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), screwbean mesquite (Prosopis pubescens ) and velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina). It is a member of the legume family of plants which includes peanuts, alfalfa, clover, and beans. The bean pods they produce can be turned into flour and used for baking. Mesquite is the most common shrub/small tree of the desert southwest. If mesquites have arrived as intruders in the view of cattlemen of the Southwest, they have, by contrast, long been a welcome presence in the larders, livestock feed bins, workshops, gardens and medicine cabinets in the perspective of many desert residents. Animals can eat the fruit; coyotes survive almost exclusively on mesquite pods during the winter months. Lindell worked in greyhound racing for 25 years. Perfectly adapted for its dry environment, the mesquite is a hardy tree. The mesquites’ encroachment into pasturelands and displacement of grasses has frustrated cattlemen, who unwittingly fostered the advance in the first place by overgrazing. Boiled mesquite roots yielded a soothing balm that cured colic and healed flesh wounds. Like the other mesquite species it has spines; they are 3 inches long and occur along the branches. Mesquite leaves, crushed and mixed with water and urine, cured headaches. The mesquite tree is a deciduous tree that is native to arid and semi-arid regions of Mexico, Southwestern United States, South America, Africa, India, and the Middle East. Mesquite is a common name for several plants in the genus Prosopis, which contains over 40 species of small leguminous trees. Seven species of mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa, P. juliflora, P. pubescens, and others) cover some 54 million acres of Texas, and parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Mexico. “Because dense mesquite outcompetes grass for water and light and because mesquite groves don’t support fire, this conversion is permanent (on a human time scale) without physical intervention,” according to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Internet site. The velvet mesquite has leaflets which feel velvety to the touch. Mesquite gum preparations soothed ailing eyes, eased a sore throat, cleared up dysentery and relieved headaches. Chilean mesquite trees (Prosopis chilensis and hybrids) dominate urban landscapes in the American Southwest. However, one authority “determined that within 5 years of a fire in southern Arizona [mesquite] biomass [the total dry weight of the mesquite population] had attained preburn levels.” Mesquites may succumb to frequently repeated burns but so do native grasses, making way for imported invasive species such as the extremely aggressive Lehmann lovegrass.

mesquite tree identification

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