in Tucson, Phoenix,
Arizona and California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California

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Prosopis velutina: Velvet Mesquite

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Form: Single or multitrunked tree.
Leaf retention: Deciduous.
Growth rate: Moderate.
Mature Size: 30-40' high and wide.
Flowers: Yellow to cream colored, bottlebrush shaped, often profusely clustered, fragrant.
Bloom: Spring.
Fruit: Seed pod, light tan, cylindrical, straight to slightly curved on tree, constricted around seeds. Pods and seeds are edible, often ground into a flour.
Leaves: Green, oval, compound leaflets, covered with fine hairs. Provides moderate to dense shade.
Stems: 1-2" long straight spines. Brown bark roughens with age.
Roots: Nitrogen-fixing*, deep taproot, aggressive.
Wildlife: Attracts bees. Seed pods eaten by birds and mammals, including cattle.
Toxic / Danger: Spines.
Origin: California through New Mexico and Mexico.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 7b-10.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun.
Water after becoming established: Deeply every two months during drought. Be sure to deep water past the drip line of the tree and away from the trunk to encourage lateral root development. Water encourages crown growth and mesquites without sufficiently wide roots can be blown over by strong winds.
Soil: Well drained, dry, low in organic content, pH 6.6-8.5 (neutral to alkaline). *Do not use a nitrogen fertilizer.
Prune: In winter, remove lowest branches to train into a tree. Also thin crown by removing any inward- or downward-pointing branches. Can sucker profusely after pruning, so a second pruning cycle may be needed in July. If cut to ground, it will grow new trunks from roots.
Do not thin more than 20% to avoid stem sunburn which encourages insect pests.
Litter: Seedpods.
Propagation: Scarified seed.
Pests: Mistletoe possible if plant is weakened by prolonged drought.
Uses: Ornamental, shade, edible seedpods.

Mesquites hybridize easily and can be difficult to identify in the wild.

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Prosopis velutina: Velvet Mesquite - flowers

Prosopis velutina: Velvet Mesquite - seed pods

Prosopis velutina: Velvet Mesquite - leaves

Prosopis velutina: Velvet Mesquite