En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - October 08, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: When is Texas mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) mature
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Can you tell me the life cycle for the native Texas mesquite? I have found one source that says it matures in 2-5 years, but no other sources confirm this. We are hoping to classify mesquite flooring as a rapidly renewable building material but need to know if it's life cycle is 10 years or less. thanks


Prosopis glandulosa (honey mesquite) generally begins to produce seeds by three years of age according to Information from the US Forest Service (see under "Botanical and Ecological Characteristics"). This article also states that:

"Honey mesquite plants can sprout from numerous perennial dormant buds located along rhizomes or the upper part of the root....When aboveground growth is damaged or killed, new sprouts arise from the bud zone. If aboveground growth is destroyed or damaged during a dormant period, sprouts arise the following spring and often flower during their first growing season. If aboveground growth is damaged during the wet part of the growing season when root carbohydrate levels are high, plants resprout rapidly but do not flower until the following growing season. If destroyed during the dry portion of the growing season when root carbohydrate levels are low, sprouting is delayed or slow, sometimes for 3 to 5 years."

This ability, plus its tolerance to drought conditions, results in different growth forms and the article recognizes three forms:

"1) a single-stemmed tree reaching 20 to 40 feet (6-12 m) in height, with crooked, drooping branches, 2) an erect, multiple-stemmed bush or small tree, often 10 to 15 feet (3-4.6 m) tall, and 3) a decumbent or running bush found on deep sandy soils."

For your purposes, you are probably most interested in the first growth form and the fastest growth possible. The single-stemmed form will depend on trees that aren't injured and the growth rate will depend on soil type and available moisture.

There are many ranchers out there who would readily agree that mesquite is too rapidly renewable. They have been trying to get rid of it for years!


More Trees Questions

How to deal with suckers on Flame-leaf Sumac
May 20, 2013 - Hi! It seems you can have too much of a good thing! Our flameleaf sumac is taking over our yard. There are multiple shoots appearing in our flower beds and in the lawn. How do I get rid of the unwante...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen groundcover under pine tree in NY
May 23, 2008 - Hello! I live in upstate NY. I'm trying to find an evergreen ground cover to plant under a pine tree. I believe it's a white spruce (but I'm not postive). I've read conflicting information reg...
view the full question and answer

Identifying Rhus lanceolata in Texas
April 28, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I think I've identified two small trees, 4 to 5 feet high at the back fence line and two in the front yard flower beds as prairie flameleaf sumac (or at least some kind of s...
view the full question and answer

Trees for pool area in Solano County, California
June 02, 2010 - We are looking for trees we can plant with non-invasive roots near our pool. We don't want them to get too big (about 10 feet) because we don't want them to shade out our pool. We also don't want...
view the full question and answer

Pruning lower branches of Cordia Boissieri from San Antonio
December 08, 2013 - My Texas Wild Olive Tree is about 6 feet high now. I bought it at the 2012 plant sale. This past summer it put on new branches near the base of the tree which I would like to cut off (to encourage u...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center