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Prosopis velutina (Velvet mesquite)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Prosopis velutina

Prosopis velutina Woot.

Velvet Mesquite

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Synonym(s): Neltuma velutina, Prosopis articulata, Prosopis chilensis var. velutina, Prosopis juliflora, Prosopis juliflora var. articulata, Prosopis juliflora var. velutina


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), HI (I)

Spiny tree with short, forking trunk, open, spreading crown of crooked branches, and finely hairy or velvety foliage, twigs, and pods. Under favorable conditions it sometimes grows as high as 30 feet, but in drier areas it is a spreading shrub with long, thick roots which people sometimes dig up for fuel. Leaves are alternate, deciduous, with long stems, made up of 12-20 leaflets about 2 inches long and 1/4 inch wide, which are again divided into smaller leaflets. All are smooth, dark green, and linear. The flower stem is 3 inches long or more, containing numerous cream-colored flowers that honeybees seem to prefer. The long, white stamens are numerous, turning yellow with age. The beans, up to 8 inches long, gradually turn yellow and mature in August and September. They contain about 25 percent sugar and are a valuable livestock food.

The medium-sized tree mesquite of central and southern Arizona, Velvet Mesquite reaches larger size than related species. The wood is used for fenceposts and novelties and is one of the best in the desert for fuel; even the large, deep taproots are grubbed up for that use. Southwestern Indians prepared meal and cakes from the sweet pods and livestock browse them, disseminating the seeds. Bees produce a fragrant honey from mesquites.


From the Image Gallery

2 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Legume
Size Notes: Grows as high as 30 feet.

Bloom Information

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


Native Distribution: Extreme SW. New Mexico west to central Arizona and NW. Mexico; at 500-5500' (152-1676 m).
Native Habitat: Along washes and valleys and on slopes and mesas in desert, desert grassland, and occasionally with oaks.


Use Wildlife: Seed pods contain about 25 percent sugar and are a valuable livestock food.
Use Other: Hard wood is also used for fence posts and sometimes for railroad ties.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: 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.

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

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:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


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

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