Mesquite

Kurt Elieson

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First Class requirement #6: Identify or show evidence of at least 10 kinds of native plants found in your community.

Mesquite trees are scrappy survivors. They thrive in the dry prairies of west Texas where other trees have trouble. If a field around Dallas-Fort Worth is cleared of tree cover for planting or grazing and is then left unmowed for several years, it will become dotted with mesquite trees. Mesquite leaves are light-colored to better reflect sunlight and thin to reduce water loss through evaporation. Mesquites also have a very deep taproot for reaching water. New branches often have serious thorns that can penetrate shoes.

Mequite trees are often small, about the size a large bush. The light color of the leaves makes it easy to see mesquites even when mixed in with other trees.

Mesquite wood is very hard, which makes it bad for chainsaws, good for furniture, and excellent for barbecuing. It burns slow and hot.

The last picture is not a mesquite, but a honey locust tree. The honey locust has thorns and hard wood like a mesquite, but its leaves are not as desert thin, and it grows straighter like a normal tree. The honey locust looks almost like a cross between a mesquite and a mimosa.

Click on the pictures to see them up close.

Page last updated 2011.02.05