You might recall we visited a T or C few weeks ago, unfortunately we had to return last week, my father in-law passed away. I am featuring their Mesquite Tree in his honor. I've been captivated by this tree since my first visit here back in 2008. It's the seed pods that first got my attention...
But the tiny leaves are beautiful too, especially against the blue blue sky.
It wasn't until taking these photos that I discovered another feature, it has spikes!
And it does drop a few pods…
Distance and age kept me from knowing my father in-law as a gardener, but I've heard many stories. He was a Nebraskan farmer and brought his farming ways with him when they moved to New Mexico, although on a smaller scale. He saw to it their small plot of land was terraced and a garden was planted. In later years, as balance became an issue for him, they purchased a pair of stock tanks in which he could grow vegetables, ready-made raised planters.
It's difficult for me to write with any authority about the Mesquite, since it doesn’t grow in my garden, but here are some facts I've found online...
- a leguminous plant of the Prosopis genus found in northern Mexico through the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts, and up into the Southwestern United States as far north as southern Kansas, west to the Colorado Desert in California, and east to the eastern fifth of Texas. Several species are found in arid to semi-arid regions of southern and western South America (source).
- Mesquite trees vary tremendously in size, depending on growing conditions. Where water is plentiful, and if the seedlings are not injured by weather or animals, trees may grow 40 to 50 feet tall, with a spread of 40 feet or more. The trunk forks only a few feet above the ground. If a new shoot is disturbed, the plant develops into a sprawling multi-trunked shrub (source).
- fluffy, creamy-white flowers, which often have a greenish or yellowish cast, appear from spring to autumn. The beans, which mature in late summer, develop in a pod between four and nine inches long. When ripe, the beans are covered by a sweetish coating, which has a sugar content as high as 30 percent (source).
- it adapts to almost any soil that is not soggy (source).
- Mesquite beans can lie dormant for many years—some say up to 40 years—waiting for the right conditions for sprouting (source).
- taproots of mesquites are legendary, growing seemingly as deep as needed to reach the water table—often 25 to 65 feet in length (source).
- the Mesquite will grow to 30 ft tall and 40 ft wide, and is deciduous
- it's tolerant of high heat with low water requirements
- the cold tolerance of many species has been established but this tolerance is quite variable owing to the condition of the plant at the onset of winter. Heavily fertilized and irrigated trees will not tolerate the cold as well as those that have been conditioned with less water and no fertilizer late in the summer. Honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) and screwbean mesquite (P. pubescens) can survive temperatures to 0 ºF; velvet mesquite (P. velutina) is reliably cold hardy to at least 10 ºF; Chilean mesquite (P. chilensis) and black mesquite (P. nigra) are hardy to at least 15 ºF; Argentine mesquite (P. alba) and many South American hybrids suffer damage and dieback when temperatures fall below 15 – 20 ºF (source).
I can tell you they pop up freely around town, vacant lots always have a few, like this sturdy little guy.
“I could ask for no better monument over my grave than a good mesquite tree, its roots down deep like those of people who belong to the soil, its hardy branches, leaves and fruit holding memories of the soil. . . .”
— J. Frank Dobie, Texas writer (source)
As always I'm curious what's looking good in your garden this week...
All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.