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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)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Prosopis chilensis Chilean algarrobo, Chilean mesquite
Prosopis chilensis Chilean algarrobo, Chilean mesquite - 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.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 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: acid, neutral and basic (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.


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 ].

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

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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.

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 ].

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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

Found In

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

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 NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Prosopis africanaPau Carvão. Mesquite. Iron tree22
Prosopis albaWhite carob tree, Algarrobo blanco 22
Prosopis cinerariaJandi, Ghaf22
Prosopis glandulosaHoneypod mesquite. Glandular mesquite32
Prosopis julifloraMesquite, Honey Mesquite32
Prosopis pallidaAlgaroba22
Prosopis tamarugoTamarugo10


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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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