Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Prosopis glandulosa

Honey mesquite, Glandular mesquite, Algarroba

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite)
Lytle, Melody
Honey mesquite is a shrub or small tree to 30 ft. The crown spreads a distance equal or more to the height. Twigs are armed with sharp thorns up to 2 inches long especially on young plants. Twice-compound, deciduous leaves are very bright-green and feathery. Leaflets up to 2 inches long and 3 1/16 inch wide. Tiny, yellow-green, fragrant flowers occur in dense, spike-like racemes appearing in April and as late as August during wet summers. Fruit a long, yellowish brown pod, somewhat flattened and with slight constrictions between the seeds.

The seeds are disseminated by livestock that graze on the sweet pods, and the shrubs have invaded grasslands. Cattlemen regard mesquites as range weeds and eradicate them. In sandy soils, dunes often form around shrubby mesquites, burying them except for a rounded mass of branching tips. The deep taproots, often larger than the trunks, are grubbed up for firewood. Southwestern Indians prepared meal and cakes from the pods. As the common name indicates, this species is also a honey plant. The word mesquite is a Spanish adaptation of the Aztec name mizquitl.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Size Notes: 25-30
Flower: Flowers 3 inches long
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AZ , CA , CO , KS , LA , NV , NM , OK , TX , UT
Native Distribution: LA & OK to s. CA, s. to n. Mex.; includes extreme s.w. UT
Native Habitat: Deserts; plains; stream banks; arroyos

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type.
Conditions Comments: Mesquite needs deep watering to become a tree, but tolerates drought thereafter. Plants are drought-tolerant when young but will remain shrubs if not irrigated. Bloom period is predominantly spring, but the plant does flower at other times. P. glandulosa, erroneously known also as P. juliflora and P. chilensis, is represented by two varieties: var. glandulosa and var. torreyana. This aggressive plant has increased greatly in abundance (though it has not much extended its geographic range) in the last 120 years, becoming especially abundant on disturbed grasslands.


Use Ornamental: Fast growing, Showy, Blooms ornamental, Attractive, Fixes nitrogen, Planned landscape, Shade tree
Use Wildlife: An excellent bee tree. Nectar-bees, Nectar-insects, Cover, Fruit-mammals, Fruit-birds.
Use Food: Lining of seedpods separated, dried, and ground into a powder to make mesquite meal or mesquite flour, a sweet-tasting substance that was a staple of the indigenous diet where this and other Prosopis species grew and has been rediscovered today for its nutritive value and caramel-like flavor.
Use Other: Wood used as firewood and notably to impart a smoky flavor to meats in the Southwest, particularly in Texas.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Reickers blue butterfly, Long-tailed skipper
Deer Resistant: Moderate

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Prosopis glandulosa is a larval host and/or nectar source for:

(Sphingicampa heiligbrodti)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Long-tailed Skipper
(Urbanus proteus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2015-11-06