Prosopis glandulosa Torr.
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Honey mesquite, though the major endemic woody plant in West Texas (Goen and
Dahl, 1982) and considered useful by many, has probably received more attention
for its negative rather than positive economic impact (see 1982 J. Range Mgt.
references). Still, this and other mesquite have been favored firewoods for
years, and this use is expanding. Not differentiating the American desert
species, Felger (1977) says, "Mesquite was the most widespread and important
resource of the diverse native peoples in southwestern North America. It was
utilized for food, fuel, shelter, weapons, tools, fiber, dye, cosmetics,
medicine, and a multitude of other practical as well as aesthetic purposes:
every part of the plant was used."
Reported to be collyrium, emetic, and laxative, honey mesquite is a folk remedy
for dyspepsia, eruptions, eyes, hernias, skin ailments, sores, sorethroat, and
umbilical ailments (Duke and Wain, 1981).
Per 100 g, the pericarp (only) is reported to contain 8.18.3 g H2O, 58 g
protein, 1341 g sugar, and 2330 g fiber. Whole pods contained 2.2 g H2O, 14
g protein, 20 g fiber, and 34 g sugar (Felker et al., 1981). Contains
isorhamnetin 3-glucoside, apigenin 6,8-diglycoside, and traces of quercitin
3',3diOMe, luteolin 3'-OMe, and apigenin diglycoside (Simpson, 1977). Texas
fruit pods contain 13.0% protein, 19.1% sugar, California pods contain 9.5%
protein, 31.0% sugar. The arabic like gum contains 85% arabin (Burkart, 1943).
Leaves contain tyramine and N-methyltyramine (Simpson, 1977).
Tall shrub or tree of 39 m; foliage deciduous; spines axillary, uninodal,
14.5 cm long, mostly solitary, sometimes very few, or solitary and geminate
alternately on different nodes of the same twig. Leaves glabrous, uni- or
bijugate; petiole (with rachis when extant) 215 cm long; pinnae 617 cm long;
leaflets 6 to 17 pairs, ca 718 mm distant on the rachis, linear or oblong,
obtuse, glabrous, subcoriaceous, prominently veined below, costa frequently of
lighter color, (1.5-) 26.3 cm long x 1.54.5 mm broad, 5 to 15 times as long
as broad. Racemes spiciform as usual, ca 514 cm long, multiflorous; petals
2.53.5 mm long; ovary stipilate, villous. Legume straight, 820 cm long X
0.71.3 cm broad, rarely subfalcate, compressed to subterete, submoniliform,
glabrous, straw-yellow or tinged with violet, short-stiped, with strong, short,
or elongate acumen, ca 518-seeded; joints subquadrate to oval; seeds oblique
to longitudinal (Burkart, 1976).
Reported from the North American Center of Diversity, honey mesquite, or cvs
thereof, is suggested to hybridize with P. laevigata and P.
velutina (Simpson, 1977). Felker et al. (1981) report their highest
biomass production among progeny of hybrids, possibly with South American
ornamentals. Coppicing ability and psyllid resistance resembling P.
alba, but the leaf and thorn morphology more closely resembled P.
glandulosa. (2n = 28,56,112)
Southwestern U.S. and Mexico (Burkart, 1976). The shrub is reportedly
controlled by 2,4,5-T, aerially applied. In Texas, the control is most
effective when OctoberApril rainfall equals or slightly exceeds average.
Percentage kill is lowest where rainfall was extremely high or low. Herbicide
effectiveness is reduced by conditions favoring new growth, like frequent rain
ca 30 days before treatment (Meadors and Fisher, 1978).
The species probably ranges from Tropical Thorn to Moist through Subtropical
Thorn to Moist Forest Life Zones, tolerating an estimated annual precipitation
of 3 to 20 dm, annual temperature of 18 to 21°C, and pH of 6 to 8 (Hanson,
1982). Goen and Dahl (1982) showed, in West Texas, that a long period of
consistently low daily minimum temperatures during the winter provides mesquite
chilling requirements allowing for early budbreak. Once the chilling
requirement is met, relatively warm minimum daily temperatures can hasten
Felker et al. (1981) report a water requirement of 1150.3 cm3 per g
Harvested as needed for fuelwood. The tree coppices quite well. Bearing
fruits in 3 to 4 years, the trees are usually harvested by hand, often after
the fruits have fallen.
Of the 13.4 kg per average honey mesquite, 5.2% was in leaves, 1.3% in fruit,
1.8% in current twigs, 13.9% in small branches, 22.6% in large branches, and
22.7% for the understory, 4.5% for shrub litter, 18.0% for understory litter.
Further details indicating total biomass at less than 1 MT/ha are found in
Whittaker and Niering (1975). Following herbicide spraying
(3,6-dichloropicolinic acid), grasses in honey mesquite plots produced twice as
much forage as unsprayed areas (7151165 kg/ha cf 336457 kg/ha) while forbs
were about equally productive (140373 cf 91333). Comparing velvet mesquite,
palo verde, and honey mesquite, Barth and Klemmendson (1982) determined that
total DM in the soil-plant systems averaged 147.6, 103.1, and 13.4 kg/shrub,
the crown areas averaging 20.9, 15.2, and 2.9 m2 or 1480, 120, and
1800 kg/ha (assuming complete crown cover) respectively. Functional analysis
showed that soil under palo verde did not accumulate N or C with increase in
shrub size, whereas that under velvet mesquite accumulated N at the rate of
11.2 g/m2 per meter of height and C at the rate of 111
g/m2 per meter of height.
Felker et al. (1981) measured biomass/tree at 4.329.0 kg, pod yields at 3452
g/tree, which compares favorably with P. chilensis, whose ovendry
biomass was calculated at 13.7 MT/ha/yr. They report 7 MT/ha for var.
torreyana. California accessions showed a wide range in productivity
and fell just below the highest and just above the lowest in var.
torreyana, at least during the first year. Shrubs large enough to
harvest are used for firewood.
Mistletoe can seriously damage this species. Bruchids reported from this
species include Algarobius bottimeri and prosopis. Golden (p.c.
1984) lists the nematode Meloidodera chavis.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Barth, R.C. and Klemmedson, J.O. 1982. Amount and distribution of dry matter,
nitrogen, and organic carbon in soil plant systems of mesquite and palo verde.
J. Range Mgt. 35(4):412418.
- Burkart, A. 1943. Las leguminosas Argentinas. Acme Agency. Buenos Aires.
- Duke, J.A. and Wain, K.K. 1981. Medicinal plants of the world. Computer index
with more than 85,000 entries. 3 vols.
- Felger, R.S. 1977. Mesquite in Indian cultures of southwestern North America.
chap. 8. In: Simpson, B.B. (ed.), Mesquite, its biology in two desert scrub
ecosystems. Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc., Stroudsburg, PA.
- Felker, P., Cannell, G.H., Clark, P.R., Osborn, J.F., and Nash, P. 1981.
Screening Prosopis (mesquite) species for biofuel production on semiarid
lands. Final Report to US DOE. NTIS. Springfield, VA.
- Goen, J.P. and Dahl, B.E. 1982. Factors affecting budbreak in honey mesquite in
West Texas. J. Range Mgt. 35(4):533534.
- Hanson, J.D. 1982. Effect of light, temperature, and water stress on net
photosynthesis in two populations of honey mesquite. J. Range Mgt.
- Meadors, C. and Fisher, C.E. 1978. Influence of rainfall on the control of
honey mesquite. Abstr. 1978 WSSA Meeting.
- Simpson, B.B. (ed.). 1977. Mesquite, its biology in two desert scrub
ecosystems. Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc. Stroudsburg, PA.
- Whittaker, R.H. and Niering, W.A. 1975. Vegetation of the Santa Catalina
mountains, Arizona V. Biomass, production, and diversity along the elevation
gradient. Ecology 56:771790.
Last update Thursday, January 8, 1998 by aw