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Prosopis chilensis - (Molina) Stuntz

Common Name Chilean algarrobo, Chilean mesquite
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats A common ruderal weed, coming up singly and in groups along roadsides, round habitations, on refuse dumps and in other disturbed habitats; in arid and semi-arid regions[303 ].
Range S. America - Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Prosopis chilensis Chilean algarrobo, Chilean mesquite

Prosopis chilensis Chilean algarrobo, Chilean mesquite
Wikimedia.org - Daderot


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Prosopis chilensis is a deciduous Tree growing to 12 m (39ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects. The plant is not self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid, very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Acacia siliquastrum Cav. ex Lag. Ceratonia chilensis Molina Mimosa siliquastrum Cav. Prosopis schinopoma Stuck. Prosopis siliquastrum (Cav. ex Lag.) DC.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seedpod
Edible Uses:

The seedpods contain a sweet, edible pulp surrounding the seeds[317 ]. They can be used to make a drink[418 ]. The pods are dried and then ground into a powder[303 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Agroforestry Uses: The tree can be grown as a hedge[317 ]. It is also of potential use for soil stabilization and erosion control[414 ]. The typical form of this species is thornless and therefore of interest for breeding of cultivars adapted to arid and semiarid areas[317 ]. Other Uses: A gum is obtained from the stems[317 ]. It has been used as a substitute for gum arabic (from Acacia spp.)[317 ]. The heartwood is reddish-brown to dark brown; the sapwood is pale yellow. The grain is straight; lustre is bright. The wood is fairly dense, durable to very durable. It is easy to saw and plane and is capable of a good finish. It is used for parquet floors, doors, furniture, construction etc[325 , 363 , 414 ]. The wood is excellent for both firewood and charcoal[317 , 414 ]. When burnt, it ignites readily, has a high calorific value, emits intense heat, makes enduring embers and leaves little ash[303 ]. Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Low Water Use. Windbreak. Fodder: Pod, Bank.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Fodder: Bank  Fodder: Pod  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Balanced carb

A plant of the tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 2,900 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 30°c, but can tolerate 12 - 45°c[418 ]. The mature tree may tolerate temperatures down to around -5°c for a short duration, but it cannot withstand repeated frosts and young growth can be killed at -1°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 300 - 500mm, but tolerates 200 - 600mm[418 ]. Requires a sunny position. Succeeds in shallow soils of low fertility and in saline soils[303 , 418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7.5, tolerating 6 - 8.5[418 ]. Established plants can withstand 8 - 11 months of annual drought[418 ]. An aggressive plant, it may easily become a weed[418 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[755 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Fodder: Pod  Fodder plants with pods.
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.
  • Staple Crop: Balanced carb  (0-15 percent protein, 0-15 percent oil, with at least one over 5 percent). The carbohydrates are from either starch or sugar. Annuals include maize, wheat, rice, and potato. Perennials include chestnuts, carob, perennial fruits, nuts, cereals, pseudocereals, woody pods, and acorns.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it remains viable for several years in normal storage[325 ]. The seeds are hardcoated and must be scarified in order to germinate. Burning, nicking and immersion in boiling water are some of the methods that can be used. If the seeds are not extracted from the pods before sowing, they will normally require several minutes of boiling to overcome dormancy. Normally the seeds are sown directly in containers. Germination starts after 2 weeks and continues for up to one month. When the plants are 30 - 35cm tall they are ready for planting in the field[325 ]. Direct seeding is also possible[325 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Algarroba, Cashaw bean, Cupesi, Ibopope-guasu, Kabuli, Kiawe, Kikkar, Taco, Vilayati kheijra, Vilayati

Africa, Argentina, Australia, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, Colombia, East Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Hawaii, India, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, North Africa, North America, Paraguay, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South America, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Uruguay, USA, West Africa, Yemen

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

An aggressive plant, it may easily become a weed[418 ]

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Prosopis africanaPau Carvão. Mesquite. Iron treeTree10.0 10-12 SLMHNM223
Prosopis albaWhite carob tree, Algarrobo blancoTree10.0 10-12 MLMHNDM323
Prosopis cinerariaJandi, GhafTree6.5 10-12 MLMHNDM323
Prosopis glandulosaHoneypod mesquite. Glandular mesquiteTree7.0 8-11 FLMHNM324
Prosopis julifloraMesquite, Honey MesquiteTree10.0 7-12 FLMNDM324
Prosopis pallidaAlgarobaTree12.0 10-12 FLMHNDM222
Prosopis tamarugoTamarugoTree12.0 10-12 FLMHNDM103

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Molina) Stuntz

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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