Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mesquite Trees....Love them or hate them?

The other day I was walking down a path lined with these beautiful trees. One of the things that goes through my mind when I see this plant is whether or not one should love them or hate them here in Tucson.  Let me list the pros and cons and you decide....

1. Self fertilizing
2.  Nice shade tree for the desert
3. Unique branch structure
4.  Little to zero watering as it grows naturally in our landscape
5. Sonoran wildlife love this plant
6. Is a fast grower in the desert
7.  Will tolerate intense sun

1.  Root structure spreads on top of the soil
2.  If not pruned properly, this tree can blow over...
3.  Branches break off easily during storms(cars and homes damaged each time)
4.  Mesquite pods are the messiest unless you like making pancakes with them
5. Some have thorns
6. Can be invasive rootwise...never put near a pool or a foundation

So what's your verdict?


  1. Nice Velvet Mesquite (?) bosque. I think our native SW mesquites are more attractive than the S American algorrobas, too.

    I might add...they self-seed with a vengeance good or bad), they also fall over if not irrigated deeply and over the root zone (as with many other trees we forgive for that), and they are ruggedly attractive (palo verdes are softly attractive).

  2. I love them I have to admit! They do require a lot of maintenence but are worth the trouble for the shade and habitat they provide.

  3. Well, I say love them. I don't know of very many trees that aren't messy at certain times of the year. All trees need to be deep rooted to keep from being toppled by the wind, don't they? There aren't very many trees that do well from a landscape perspective when they are planted close to pools. I'd say the pros outweigh the cons!

    I thought of you yesterday when a huge tiger swallowtail buzzed by me looking for some refuge in a mountain laurel tree up the street from my house. I had just been lamenting the fact that I had not seen any big beautiful flutterbyes here in Phx in a long time.

  4. Having two varieties of mesquite, here is my verdict. I have the south american kind....with's a pretty tree, but it hurts me everytime I prune because the branches get in the way of the head area....I always think of a thorn going into someone's I keep it raised...and the other is a native from here and I also beautiful but during several wind storms, several healthy branches snapped off and almost hit our I pruned one back so that we won't have any of those nearby was really scary...almost went through our window....which is why I am hesitant about planting a lot of them.....but I did plant another local with the hopes that it will support the other with a type of tree canopy hook up over our ramada about 5 years it should be quite attractive.

    Kathy, so glad to hear you have some butterflys around your place....they are absolutely beautiful right now flying all over the place.:)

  5. hahaha, you mean it should have been planted in marginal lands? We have these scenes along the hiway but trees are hardwoods, so not very risky during storms. It feels good for motorists, as if one is going through a tunnel, i like the feeling too. And it provides newly minted oxygen for motorists, scraping the carbon dioxide toxin emissions which is their food for growth. Earth friendly creatures!

  6. I love mesquites when they are planted where there is plenty of room to grow. For my small yard, I prefer Feather Bush (Lysiloma watsonii), sort of looks like mesquite but smaller and no thorns.

  7. Can I ask where this path is that you took this photo? It looks quite lovely and picturesque here. I live in Tucson and would love to walk along this path. :)

  8. You sure can:) Once you're at Agua Caliente Park, head to the far right behind the behind the building at the edge of springs. There is a railing there and it may be difficult to see. But right behind it, there is a concrete path....and that will take you straight through this thicket of mesquite. It's a short walk, but head towards the right side of the park once you've parked your car. Good luck!

  9. Thank you! I've been up to Agua Caliente Park before. It's really pretty! I'll be sure to check it out again! Thanks. :)

    P.S. I just noticed your name and clicked on your profile, and I'm pretty sure I used to work with you, just based on your name and the fact that you teach Spanish. Small world! I used to be an English teacher at a high school in NW Tucson, but left couple years ago to stay home with my daughter. My name is Sharon Spall, in case I'm thinking of the right person.

  10. Oh my gosh Sharon!!! That is too funny. Of course I remember you!! It's me and I'm still doing the same old same old....but extending myself now into my gardening, travel and landscape passions. I'm glad to know you are doing well and with the kiddo. Your pics are amazing on your blog!! Thanks for reading. This is a really cool surprise:)

  11. Aww thanks so much! After I left teaching to stay home with my daughter, I started going a little stir crazy. lol So, I started learning about photography, and it's been really fun. It was just what I needed. I love it! I've been terrible with updating my blog lately. I need to get back into it.

    Sorry for the delayed response! I forgot to come back here and check on this. :) How funny! What a small world indeed! Glad to hear things are good with you. Good luck with the gardening! It sounds really peaceful, especially as the weather starts to cool. I'm sure I'll be back to visit sometime soon. I am overdue for a lunch visit. :)


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