Mesquite trees in Arizona symbolize the Southwestern deserts as much as the Coyote, prickly pear cacti, scorpions, and the Saguaro does. We could openly say that these trees are a part of life in Arizona just like cornbread and tortillas. These hardy desert trees have adapted over the centuries to live in this specific area and their physical characteristics make them a great addition to landscapes in the area.
Keep reading to find out more about Arizona mesquite trees, their maintenance, and the main reasons to plant them!
Mesquite Trees in Arizona – The Three Species
1. Screwbean Mesquite
Screwbean mesquite is referred to as Prosopis pubescens in most nurseries in Arizona. This spiny small tree has odd, screwlike pods, and long, slender branches. It is a graceful, dainty tree and has a stiff, multi-trunked, and vase-like structure. Its narrow clusters of pale-yellow flowers and gray-green, deciduous foliage make this tree one of the most desirable mesquite trees in Arizona. The tree has seedpods that are bunched in clusters and are easily recognizable by its unusual pods.
At maturity, this tree will grow to about 30 feet in height, meaning that it can even provide some shade to a landscape. Its sweet, nutritious pods are favored by wildlife, but they can also be used for human consumption as they are regularly used in livestock. Indian made cakes, syrups, and meals from the pods and even used it as a wound treatment.
It doesn’t require too much water and does best in part shade. Moist soils are preferred, but the tree can tolerate drought without any major problems. Tree services Arizona recommend opting for sand loams for the best results.
2. Honey mesquite
Similar to Screwbean, Honey mesquite is also a small tree with a crown that spreads an equal distance to the height. It has twigs armed with sharp thorns that are especially long on undeveloped plants. Besides, it is one of the Arizona mesquite trees characterized by its leathery, bright-green, deciduous leaves. The leaflets are about 3 inches wide and 2 inches long. The tree is also very well known for its fragrant, yellow-green flowers that occur in spike-like, dense racemes.
Some residents don’t prefer this species since they consider it a range weed, resulting in the eradication. It is common for dunes to form around shrubby mesquites in sandy soils, which buries them except for the branching tips. Interestingly, its deep taproots are grubbed up for firewood since they are usually even larger than the trunks.
Once it hits maturity, the tree will grow to about 30 feet in height in the optimal environment. It doesn’t require almost any watering and can do well in full sun exposure without any problems. Dry, sandy loams will do the best job.
3. Velvet Mesquite
Similar to the other two varieties, Velvet mesquite is also a small, spiny tree with a spreading crown and velvety foliage, pods, and twigs. It will grow up to become either a spreading shrub or a small tree, depending on the location. It is known for having very thick and long roots that are commonly used for fuel. The leaves are deciduous, alternate, and have long stems.
The flower steam contains a lot of cream-colored flowers and is about 3 inches long. Additionally, it is preferred by honeybees, so you will always have them for pollination in your landscape if you decide to plant this tree. Like other Arizona mesquite trees, it also produces beans that are about 8 inches long and considered a valuable livestock food by tree service Arizona companies.
At maturity, Velvet mesquite will grow to about 30 feet in the right conditions. It does well in the full sun exposure and preferred dry, sandy loams. Consult with your arborist about the planting spot for this mesquite tree.
Q: How do you identify a mesquite tree?
A: Arizona mesquite trees are usually squatty and short, covered in thorns, and are characterized by yellow flowers. They bloom each spring and produce long, unique seed pods in fall. Visually, they may not be the most attractive trees but will do well in most landscapes.
Q: How fast do mesquite trees grow in Arizona?
A: In optimum growing conditions, mesquite trees can grow up to 25 inches per year in Arizona. They are classified as medium-growing trees and can reach up to 40 feet in height and live for more than a century in the right environment.
Q: Are mesquite trees messy?
A: Some varieties of mesquite trees are considered messy in Arizona. This opinion is due to their messy seedpods and flowers that some people find very unattractive. Also, they usually grow moderately fast so you will have to clean around them more frequently.
Q: Which mesquite trees have thorns?
A: Velvet mesquite is the variety with thorns in Arizona. These thorns are located at the leaf bases and are usually harmless. However, you could hurt yourself if you’re not careful. You will easily recognize this species due to its dark brown bark unique trunk shape.
Q: Are there male and female mesquite trees?
A: Mesquite trees have both female and male parts to the flower in Arizona. Also, they are capable of producing seeds when the conditions are right. However, there are no separate male and female trees and you don’t have to plant them in groups.
Q: What are mesquite trees good for?
A: Every part of the mesquite tree is useful in Arizona. The bean pods, sap, leaves, blossoms, and even roots are commonly used in medicine and food. Also, the wood is regularly used to make tool handles and furniture, but also for smoking.
Local Tree Experts Overview
Mesquite trees in Arizona are considered very valuable and this is one of the reasons why there are so many of them across the state. They produce beans that can be consumed, they provide shade, and its wood also has many uses. We recommend consulting with your local arborist about the planting spot for your mesquite tree!