Plant Guide > Trees > Pod Bearers > Mesquite or Honey Pod Tree

Mesquite or Honey Pod Tree

Mesquite or Honey Pod TreeThe Mesquite, or Honey Pod (Prosopis juli flora, DC.) is one of the wonderful plants of the arid and semi-arid regions. It is found as a tree 60 feet high along the rivers of southern Arizona. It ranges from Texas to southern California, and north to Colorado and Utah. In arid situations it becomes a low shrub, often with little to show above ground. But the roots develop to amazing size.

There is a central tap root that goes in search of water, sometimes 60 feet below the surface. Secondary roots go out in all directions, and form a labyrinth of woody substance, which in quantity furnishes the treeless region with building and fencing material and good fuel. Oxen drag the mesquite out by the roots, and it is cut into posts, railroad ties and frames for the adobe houses.

The leaves are like those of our honey locust, but much reduced in size. The tree furnishes little shade. But young shoots, leaves and the greenish, fragrant flowers which come in successive crops from May to July, are all cropped eagerly by cattle. So are the long, slim, sweet pods which are also used as food by Indians and Mexicans.

The sharp, spiny branches of this shrub make it a good hedge plant, and the complex root system makes it invaluable for the holding of sand dunes. Altogether the mesquite is one of the most useful trees in the silva of this country. Aborigines in the American desert might well worship it as the Hindoos do a related species.