A classic, mature velvet mesquite tree growing along a barbed wire fence. It is loaded with healthy, green leaves.
Typical mesquite tree

NPS Photo

Closeup of mesquite leaves and seed pod. The leaves are compound and have many small green leaflets. The seed pod is long, slender, and tan.
The fruits of the mesquite tree are beans that grow in long pods

NPS Photo

The mesquite (muh-SKEET) tree is the big box store of the Southwest. Mesquite wood smokes meats, warms hearths, and is used for fence posts and platters. Mesquite flowers provide nectar for honey and support a wide community of pollinators. Flour from mesquite seed pods were the mainstay of southwestern diets for thousands of years and continues to be blended into tortillas, breads, and soups to this day.

This remarkable hardwood, with roots that may reach more than 150 feet deep into the ground, creates forests called bosques (bos-KAYS) along the floodplains of nearly every stream in Saguaro National Park. Until the early 1900s, the Great Mesquite Forest of the Santa Cruz River stretched for miles from downtown Tucson, and many hope it will one day be restored.
Close up of mesquite reproductive structures called catkins. They are oblong clusters of small yellowish flowers.
Mesquite flowers grow in formations called catkins

NPS Photo

Last updated: April 12, 2021

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3693 S Old Spanish Trail
Tucson, AZ 85730


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