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Wasowski, Sally and Andy
Prosopis pubescens Benth.
Screwbean mesquite, American screw-bean, Tornillo
USDA Symbol: prpu
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
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 CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf:
Flowers in 3 inch spikes.
3 inches long Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Yellow
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul
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 USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Showy, Attractive, Fruits ornamental, Blooms ornamental
Use Wildlife: Fruit-birds, Fruit-mammals, Nectar-insects
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationPropagation 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
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Record Modified: 2009-02-20
Research By: TWC Staff