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Prosopis juliflora - (Sw.) DC.

Common Name Mesquite, Honey Mesquite
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 7-12
Known Hazards Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling
Habitats Light, sandy or gravelly soils in arid or semi-arid areas where there is subterranean moisture[200 ]. Commonly found on over-grazed land[200 ].
Range Northern and western S. America - Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela; north through Central America to Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Prosopis juliflora Mesquite, Honey Mesquite


Public Domain
Prosopis juliflora Mesquite, Honey Mesquite
Public Domain

 

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Summary

Native to Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean, Prosopis juliflora or Mesquite is a deciduous, shrub or tree growing up to 12 m in height and 1.2 m in trunk diameter. It has a large crown that is flat-topped with open canopy. The leaves are bipinnate, light green, compounded with 12 to 20 leaflets. The flowers occur in clusters of two to five. It is an invasive species but it is still used for forage, environmental management, medicine, and food. It is used to increase lactation, increase weight in children, and in preparing medicinal syrups. The seed pods are eaten raw, roasted, or ground into a powder. The powder is then mixed with water to make a refreshing drink or pudding, or fermented into an alcoholic beverage. The flowers can also be eaten raw, roasted, or made into tea. The trunk produces a gum which is used in making sweets. The bark yields tannin while the wood produces fiber used in paper production. The wood is also used as firewood and for making charcoal.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Prosopis juliflora is an evergreen Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 12 m (39ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.
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 alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Algarobia juliflora (Swartz.) Benth. ex Heynh. Mimosa juliflora Sw. Mimosa salinarum Vahl Netuma jul

Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Inner bark  Root  Seed  Seedpod
Edible Uses: Drink  Gum  Sweetener  Tea

Seedpods - raw or cooked[301 ]. They can be roasted, chewed or ground into a powder[301 ]. A rich, delicious flour can be made from pulverized pods from which seeds have been removed[303 ]. The powder can be mixed with water to make a refreshing drink, which can be drunk immediately, made into a pudding or allowed to ferment into a sort of beer[301 ]. Mature seeds can be soaked overnight and then baked like kidney beans[301 ]. Cotyledons and embryos when pulverized yield a flour rich in protein and sugar appropriate for diabetic people[303 ]. Flowers - raw. A sweet flavour[301 ]. They can also be roasted or made into a tea[301 ]. A sweet gum exudes from the trunk[301 ]. It is used in making sweets[301 ]. The wood is used as a flavouring to smoke foods[301 ].

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.
Expectorant  Miscellany  Skin

A syrup prepared from the ground up pods has various medicinal values. It is given to children showing weight deficiency or retardation in motor development[303 ]. It is believed to increase lactation[303 ]. It is also used for preparing various medicinal syrups, particularly for expectorants[303 ]. A tea made from P. juliflora is thought to be good for digestive disturbances and skin lesions[303 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Adhesive  Charcoal  Dye  Fencing  Fibre  Furniture  Gum  Miscellany  Paper  Resin  Shelterbelt  Soil reclamation  Soil stabilization  Tannin  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: Plants can be used for erosion control, to stabilize dunes, in shelterbelts and windbreaks, and as living fences in arid and semi-arid climates[200 , 303 ]. Mesquite is widely planted for land reclamation because it is an aggressive colonizer, tolerant of very poor, degraded, saline and alkaline soils. Aerial seeding of a mixture of P. juliflora, Nicotania glauca and several Eucalyptus species is used to revegetate abandoned copper mines[303 ]. Other Uses The heartwood contains significant amounts of extractable polyphenolic compounds from which can be isolated a unique flavinol compound used in the formation of new phenol-formaldehyde polymeric resins[303 ]. A reddish-amber gum, similar in properties to the gum arabic produced by Acacia senegal, often exudes from the stem and older branches[303 ]. It forms an adhesive mucilage[46 ]. Tannin or dyestuff can be extracted from the wood and bark, but the yield is only about 10%[303 ]. Tannin could also be extracted as a by-product when the wood is processed for other purposes[303 ].. There is a large potential for the wood as a source for fibre in the production of paper, paperboard and hardboard[303 ]. The heartwood is dark brown to red or yellowish; the thin band of sapwood light yellow. The wood is close grained, moderately hard, heavy, tough, strong and durable in the soil, though susceptible to the attacks of drywood termites. Seasoned wood is used for rail ties, fence posts, furniture, crafts and corrals. It is rarely used in construction, as most tree trunks are not long or straight enough[46 , 303 , 325 , 447 ]. The generally crooked stems and branches make good firewood and provide excellent charcoal[303 , 325 ]. The charcoal is used extensively in the USA as barbecue fuel[303 ].

Special Uses

Coppice  Food Forest  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant for the drier areas of the tropics and subtropics, succeeding from sea level up to elevations of 1,500 metres[303 ]. It can be grown in areas where the mean annual temperature ranges from 14 - 34°c, with an absolute maximum of almost 50°c; and where the annual precipitation is as low as 50mm or up to 1,200mm[303 , 325 ]. Adapted to many soil types from acid to alkaline and including strongly saline and severely depleted soils[303 ]. Requires a position in full sun in a light, well-drained soil[200 ]. Plants have very long taproots and, once established, are extremely drought resistant[200 ]. They can also tolerate seasonal waterlogging[303 ]. Mesquite is sometimes said to dry out the soil and compete with grasses, particularly in dry areas[303 ]. Plants can begin flowering when 3 - 4 years old, often flowering twice a year and producing seed prolifically[303 ]. Hence in some areas, especially the more humid ones, it can spread freely and is considered a weed[303 ]. A fast-growing species[381 ]. The plant coppices readily[303 ]. The plant produces fragrant, nectar-rich flowers from which bees produce a fine-flavoured clear honey[200 ]. 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 ]. Total nitrogen, sulphur and soluble salts, as well as organic matter, have been shown to increase 3-fold in the upper 4.5 metres of soil under P. Juliflora[303 ]. Flowering Time: Mid Summer Late Summer/Early Fall. Bloom Color: Pale Yellow.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Propagation

Seed - they can be stored for several years at ambient temperatures[325 ]. The seed has a very hard seedcoat and could take several years to germinate without pre-treatment to allow moisture to be absorbed. There are various ways of doing this - carefully making a small nick in the seedcoat, being careful not to damage the seed is very effective on a small scale. On a larger scale, soaking the seed in nearly boiling water for a few minutes (being careful not to cook the seeds) and then for another 24 hours in warm water is a common method[325 ]. Sow the seed in a sunny position in a nursery seedbed or individual pots. Germination of treated seed is usually fast, with 80 - 90% of the seeds sprouting within 4 - 6 days[303 , 325 ]. Aerial seeding is applied successfully to quickly cover remote, extensive and poorly accessible areas[303 ]. Inoculation with Rhizobium and mycorrhizal fungi is advantageous[303 ] Root cuttings. Grafting.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Algaroba, Asuaja, Eterai, Guaranga, Jangalee, Meskeet, Mesquite, Nisache, Screw bean, Woyane zaf, Woyane, albarobo, algarobeira, algarobia, algarroba, algarroba-bean, algarrobo, angrezi babul, bayarone, cují negro, honey mesquite, ironwood, kabulikikar, mesquite, mesquite bean, mesquitebaum, nisache, prosópis, screw bean, vilayata khejra, vilayata kikar.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Antigua and Barbuda; Barbados; Montserrat; Aruba; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba; Curaçao; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; United States; Guatemala; Honduras; Costa Rica; Panama; Colombia; Ecuador; Peru; El Salvador, Africa, Antilles, Arabia, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bolivia, Brazil, Central America, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Africa, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jamaica, Kuwait, Lesser Antilles, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Mediterranean, Mexico (native), Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Africa, North America, Oman, Pacific, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Reunion, Sahel, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, Senegal, South America, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Taiwan, Tanzania, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies (native), Yemen [1-4].

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.

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 chilensisChilean algarrobo, Chilean mesquiteTree12.0 10-12 MLMNDM203
Prosopis cinerariaJandi, GhafTree6.5 10-12 MLMHNDM323
Prosopis glandulosaHoneypod mesquite. Glandular mesquiteTree7.0 8-11 FLMHNM324
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.

 

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Botanical References

Links / References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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