Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!


Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Enter a Plant Name:
Or you can choose a plant family:
Prosopis pubescens (Screwbean mesquite)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Prosopis pubescens

Prosopis pubescens Benth.

Screwbean Mesquite, American Screwbean, Tornillo, Screwbean, Screwpod Mesquite, Twisted Bean, Fremont Screwbean

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Synonym(s): Strombocarpa odorata


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.


From the Image Gallery

32 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Legume
Size Notes: Up to about 30 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Flower: Flowers in 3 inch spikes.
Fruit: 3 inches long

Bloom Information

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


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.


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


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

National Wetland Indicator Status

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 on display at the following locations:

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


Bibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.
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

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 36 - Jepson eFlora (2019) The Jepson Herbarium, University of California, Berkeley

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


Record Modified: 2022-10-10
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back