Fabaceae (or Leguminosae). Mesquites belong to the “legume” family. The roots of the mesquite form symbiotic relationships with soil microbes. This interaction fixes nitrogen in the soil.
Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts in SW USA and NE Mexico.
Hardy to 5° F (-15° C)
1000’ to 5000’ (300-1500 m)
Full or reflected sun in even the hottest deserts.
Very low. Mesquites have long tap roots as well as extensive surface roots to make use of whatever water is available.
Moderate - Fast
Large overstory dryland tree, 30 x 30 ft (9 x 9 m) perfect for overhead shade in summer.
Wide, spreading crown. Can be multi-trunk (or low branching main branches) create sculptural element and visual interest.
Semi-deciduous to deciduous
Grey-green, fine texture
Pale yellow catkins (spring)
Spring – flowers (catkins), summer – seed pods, late fall – leaves.
Yes, medium to large.
Home to birds, pollinators, and small to large animals. Native wildlife eats seedpods and birds will eat flowers (catkins).
Food: Pods and beans can be ground into flour and used for baking. The resulting flour has a consistency similar to fine cornmeal, a sweet flavor and is very low on the glycemic index.Wood: favorite wood for flavoring BBQ. Also a good tree for coppicing for stick fires/rocket stoves. Timber.Medicinal uses: Inner red bark used as a tea for sore throat. Stomach ache treated with tea from fresh leaves. Chewing soft inner bark used to treat toothache. Weaving , dyes and fabric (bark)
Prickly Pear ( Opuntia engelmanii)
10° F/ -12° C
1,000 – 6,500’ / 300 – 2000m
California to Louisiana in the United States, and from Sonora (state) to the Tamaulipan matorral in Chihuahua (state), in Mexico.
Up to 5’ tall/1.5 m
Upright branching shrub
Fleshy green pads with numerous spines
Yellow flowers in summer followed by red-purple fruit
Low - seasonal flower and fruit drop
Spines and glochids
Pollinators include solitary bees and sap beetles.
Many food uses for the fruit and pads
Prickly pear fruits are commonly referred to as “tunas” while pads are referred to as “nopales”. Find delicious recipes and harvesting information here: http://www.desertharvesters.org/native-plant-food-guides-the-desert-can-feed-you/prickly-pear/