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Zones 10-13, 18-24
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Moderate, Minimal

Prosopis

Mesquite
Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Deciduous, Shrubs, Trees

Native to deserts in the Southwest, Mexico, and South America. Though hardy in other environments, mesquites are most commonly grown in deserts, where they are among the toughest and most useful of trees. Much of their success in these harsh conditions is due to their roots, which will travel great distances to find water (a trait that will cause problems if plants tap into drainage or sewer lines). Once established, these plants are highly drought-tolerant, but quickly adapt to regular lawn watering. In poor, rocky soil and without additional water, mesquites are shrubby; in deep soil where roots can reach ground water, or where irrigation is generous, they grow rapidly to about 30 ft. tall, with a picturesque, spreading canopy approximately as wide as high.

Prosopis glandulosa torreyana
Prosopis glandulosa torreyana

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Prosopis glandulosa

Native to the southwestern United States, Texas, and Mexico. Often multitrunked, this 30-ft. tree’s bright green leaves and drooping branchlets give it something of the look of California pepper tree (Schinus molle). Cutting-grown ‘Maverick’ is a superior, thornless form. The subspecies P. g. torreyana grows naturally westward as far as California.

Prosopis pubescens

Native to Arizona, Texas, and Mexico. The common name refers to the spirally twisted seedpods, which make an unusual and attractive addition to dried arrangements. This mesquite produces an open canopy of bluish green foliage. It is a naturally shrubby deciduous plant that is often used as a barrier planting, but it can be trained as a 30-ft. tree.

Prosopis velutina

Native from southeastern Arizona into Mexico and West Texas. Resembles P. glandulosa, which reaches 30 ft. high and wide, but P. velutina may be smaller and shrubbier when grown in poor, dry conditions. Common in Arizona.

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