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Prosopis juliflora - Torrey

Common Name Honeypod mesquite. Glandular mesquite
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards None Known
Habitats Plains and dry ranges, growing in dense thickets near desert washes but also found at the base of sand dunes and other areas where the water table is close to the surface; at elevations up to 1,800 metres[277 , 418 ]. It is a warm temperate plant. It grows on sandy plains and sandhills. It can grow in desert grassland. It can grow on slightly salty soils. In the SE region of the USA it grows to 1700 m altitude. It can grow in arid places.
Range North America, Mesoamerica. Southwestern N. America - California to Kansas, south to southern Mexico
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Prosopis juliflora Honeypod mesquite. Glandular mesquite


Don A.W. Carlson wikimedia.org
Prosopis juliflora Honeypod mesquite. Glandular mesquite
Don A.W. Carlson wikimedia.org

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Prosopis juliflora is a deciduous Tree growing to 7 m (23ft) by 7 m (23ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8. The flowers are pollinated by Bees, Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Prosopis juliflora auct. non (Swartz.)DC; Prosopis chilensis auct. non (Mol.) Schwartz.

Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Inner bark  Root  Seed  Seedpod
Edible Uses:

Edible Portion: Seeds, Honey, Fruit, Flower nectar, Vegetable. The pods and the gum from the bark are edible[418 ]. Seedpods - raw or cooked[257 ]. The immature seedpods are eaten like string beans[257 ]. A sweet flavour[257 ]. The seedpods can be 8 - 20cm long and 7 - 13mm wide, containing 5 - 18 seeds[491 ]. The seedpods and seeds are cooked, ground, water added, then allowed to ferment and used as a beverage[257 ]. The immature seedpods are cooked and the juice squeezed out then drunk like milk as a summer beverage[257 , 277 ]. Mature pods can be eaten without any processing and were often pounded into a flour in a mortar and then placed in a vessel, dampened with water, and left for 24 hours to harden. The meal was formed into cakes and eaten dry, made into a mush, or mixed with water for a beverage[277 ]. The seeds have been ground into a powder and used to make bread, pancakes or a mush[257 ]. The seeds, made into a fermented pinole, was a favourite intoxicating drink for many native peoples[277 ]. The brownish seeds are around 6mm long[277 ]. White resinous secretions used to make candy or chewed like gum[257 ]. The roots have been used to flavour drinks and make them stronger[257 ]. The roasted inflorescences are formed into a ball and eaten[277 ]. The flowers are used to make a tea[257 ]. Carbon Farming - Staple Crop: balanced carb.

Medicinal Uses

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The plant has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, including lice control and treatment of sore throat, skin sores and ulcers. Reported to be a collyrium, emetic and laxative, it is a folk remedy for dyspepsia, eruptions, hernias and skin and umbilical ailments[418 ]. The bark is astringent. An infusion is used to treat enuresis in children[257 ]. The leaves are chewed and the juice swallowed to neutralize stomach acid[257 ]. An infusion of the leaves is used to treat fevers[257]. The leaf juice is used to bathe irritated eyes and eyelids[257 ]. A decoction of the leaves and empty seedpods is used to bathe the eyes[257 ]. A gum obtained from the tree is diluted with water and used as an astringent wash on open wounds, sores and sore eyes[257 ].

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Other Uses

The plant is the source of a gum. The tree invades open areas where there is sufficient moisture and is considered to be a weed, especially if invading pasture or cultivated fields[277 ]. This habit, however, coupled with its fast growth and ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, does make it an ideal pioneer species for restoring the soil and re-establishing native woodland[K ]. Honey mesquite has excellent value in agroforestry systems. A deeply-rooted, open-canopied tree, it provides little competition for field crops and can fix 30 - 40 kg of nitrogen per hectare with 30% canopy cover. Soils under the tree are enriched with nitrogen. It may be established as a tree crop for alley cropping, windbreaks, or timber belts[414 ]. The tree is used to provide shade, shelter, erosion control, as a support and fence and for agroforestry. It can fix atmospheric nitrogen and the fallen leaves are soil improving[418 ]. The flowers are favoured by bees and are an excellent source of honey[414 , 418 ]. Other Uses A quality gum is obtain from the tree that could be economically valuable[414 ]. Comparable in quality to gum acacia (Senegalia senegal)[1093 ]. It is said to be the most important gum-producing plant in North America[491 ]. A resin obtained from the tree is used as an adhesive[257 ]. The bark is a good source of tannins[1093 ]. The fibrous outer layer of the roots is used to make mats, rough fabrics, cord etc[257 ]. Spines on the plant can be used as needles for tattooing, removing splinters etc[277 ]. The bark makes a good kindling[277 ]. The wood has a desireable colour, is very dense and hard, and has very balanced shrinkage on drying. It finishes well. These properties make it excellent for woodworking, being used for furniture, flooring etc[414 , 1093 ]. It is also used for fencing[414 ]. Large limbs of the tree are used in traditional constructions, making tools etc[257 , 418 ]. The wood is used as firewood and to make charcoal[257 , 418 ]. Carbon Farming - Industrial Crop: biomass. Agroforestry Services: nitrogen. Fodder: pod, bank.

Cultivation details

Climate: warm temperate to subtropical. tropical highlands. Humidity: arid to semi-arid. Prosopis glandulosa is found from the warm temperate zone of southern USA, through to the tropics of southern Mexico. It can be found at elevations up to 3,000 metres. It thrives under high temperatures and survives in areas with very low precipitation but is then usually found in areas with groundwater reserves[418 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 28°c, but can tolerate 14 - 40°c[418 ]. When dormant, the plant is very cold-tolerant and can survive temperatures down to about -22°c, but young growth is much more tender and can be severely damaged at -1°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 300 - 800mm, but tolerates 200 - 1,000mm[418 ]. Requires an open, sunny position and a well-drained soil[418 ]. Tolerant of a range of soils, including moderately saline[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 5 - 7.5[418 ]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[418 ]. A fast-growing tree[418 ]. Prosopis glandulosa has been widely introduced and planted as a fuel and fodder tree. Seed are spread widely by grazing animals from established plantations or single trees around houses or water-holes, and will persist for long periods in the seed bank. It has shown itself to be a very aggressive invader, especially in sub-tropical arid and semi-arid natural grasslands, both in its native range and where introduced. It is a nitrogen-fixing species and very drought and salt tolerant, rapidly out-competing other vegetation. Thorniness and a bushy habit enable it to quickly block paths and make whole areas impenetrable. Invasion in the native range generally involves an increase in plant density rather than an increase in its range. It is a declared noxious weed in Australia and South Africa, and the genus as a whole is regulated in several other countries[1093 ]. In its drier, western range, the plant occurs along streams and in low-lying areas. In areas with more rainfall, it occurs on open range or in chaparral[418 ]. The plant has a very deep root system that has been known to penetrate 18 metres into the grouns and can extract moisture from the water table[418 ]. Honey locust is tolerant of high intensity fires. Although all top growth may be killed, sprouts arise from underground buds that are dormant on an underground stem[277 ] A long period of consistently low daily minimum temperatures during the winter provides the tree with the chilling requirement that facilitates early bud break. Once the chilling requirement is met, relatively warm minimum daily temperatures can hasten bud break[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[1309 ]. Carbon Farming - Cultivation: historic staple. Management: standard, coppice.

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Propagation

Like many species within the family Fabaceae, once they have ripened and dried the seeds of this species may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing[K ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Honey Mesquite, Honeypod, Narab

Found In

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

Africa, Asia, Australia, Botswana, India, Kenya, Mexico*, Namibia, North America, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, Sudan, USA*, West Africa

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.

Yes

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 blanco32
Prosopis chilensisChilean algarrobo, Chilean mesquite20
Prosopis cinerariaJandi, Ghaf32
Prosopis glandulosaHoneypod mesquite. Glandular mesquite32
Prosopis pallidaAlgaroba22
Prosopis tamarugoTamarugo10

 

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Torrey

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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