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Prosopis pubescens (Screwbean mesquite)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Prosopis pubescens

Prosopis pubescens Benth.

Screwbean mesquite, American screw-bean, Tornillo

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Synonym(s): Strombocarpa odorata

USDA Symbol: prpu

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Spiny shrub or small tree with long, slender branches and odd, screwlike pods. American screwbean is a dainty, graceful tree barely reaching 30 ft. The stiff, vase-like, multi-trunked plant has very fine, gray-green, deciduous foliage and narrow clusters of pale-yellow flowers. Tightly coiled tan seedpods are bunched in clusters.

Screwbean Mesquite is easily recognized by the unusual pods, which are the basis of both the English and Spanish common names. The sweetish, nutritious pods can be eaten and are browsed by livestock and wildlife. Indians made meal, cakes, and syrup from the pods and prepared a treatment for wounds from the root bark. The durable hard wood is used for fenceposts, tool handles, and fuel.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf: Green
Flower: Flowers in 3 inch spikes.
Fruit: 3 inches long
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul

Distribution

USA: AZ , CA , NM , NV , TX , UT
Native Distribution: W. TX and Coahuila west to s. CA & Baja CA; north as far as extreme s.w. UT
Native Habitat: Alluvial areas; desert washes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Moist to dry, well-drained, soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Caliche type
Conditions Comments: Screwbean benefits from periodic flooding. Thin and shape for tree form; tip-prune to increase density.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: Showy, Attractive, Fruits ornamental, Blooms ornamental
Use Wildlife: Fruit-birds, Fruit-mammals, Nectar-insects
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Propagation

Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Sow seed. Seedlings damp off easily.
Seed Collection: Gather pods as soon as they turn brown. Dry pods and extract their seed. Seeds can be stored in sealed, refrigerated containers for several years.
Seed Treatment: Treatment is usually not necessary but some seed lots that have been stored may need hot water or mechanical scarification.
Commercially Avail: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Honey Bees
Provides Nesting Materials/Structure for Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FAC FAC FAC
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX

Bibliography

Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Prosopis pubescens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Prosopis pubescens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Prosopis pubescens

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2009-02-20
Research By: TWC Staff

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