Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Another denizen of the desert: mesquite

Continuing with a look round at the native plants in the neighborhood, I introduce mesquite (Prosopis).  The mesquite of this region appears to be Prosopis velutina, the Arizona or velvet mesquite.  It is a small tree, often multi-trunked, with fine-textured, compound leaves, and fuzzy blooms rather like a catkin, followed by long seedpods.  

mesquite, prosopis, desert plants, desert tree, native tree, Sonora

Although they have at best a rather rugged beauty in the wild, I have seen them growing handsomely in cultivation.  They have the makings of a pleasant shade tree of small to medium height with a nice spread.  However, they are thorny and their pods can create quite a litter, which I understand is attractive to rodents.  To counterbalance these difficulties, there is no doubt that mesquite is hardy and well-adapted to the area and, as I say, it can be a very attractive tree when given some care.  The leaves are finely divided but it gives the effect of a shadier plant than the other common tree of the area, the palo verde.  Of which more hereafter!

Here are a few more photos from last spring.  The flower clusters are profuse though their color is so quiet that one hardly notices the blooms.

Mesquite, prosopis, desert tree, sonora, native tree
mesquite, prosopis, desert plant, desert tree, native tree, Sonora

Angular branches are set off by delicate leaves and flower clusters after a rainy season.
mesquite, prosopis, desert tree, desert plant, native tree, Sonora tree

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