On our annual Mexican road-trip inland, we were drawn to the beauty of the mesquite tree. The traveler sees twisted, crooked limbs, sharp spiteful thorns amid flowers looking like long spikes of yellow catkins and delicate feather-like leaves; as yet, seasonal pods have not matured. There is a delicate fragrance perfuming the arid landscape.
Mesquite (from Nahuatl mizquitl) is a plant found in Mexico and upwards through Southern US; some species are also found in Central and northern South America. It is a deciduous tree reaching heights of 20-30 ft; depending on the particular species and environmental conditions, it can exhibit more shrub-like tendencies than tree. With long deep taproots making it an extremely hardy, drought-tolerant plant, ranchers consider this a nuisance tree because it competes with rangeland grasses for moisture.