Chilean mesquite pros and cons

 In Southern Arizona, the Chilean mesquite tree is common due to its fast growth, limited water demands, and shade. Indigenous to South America, Chilean mesquite develops individually or multi-trunked to a maximum of 30 feet in height with a spread of 40' or higher. The trunk also seems to be twisted by a coarse, dark bark texture. 

There are variable stipular thorns up to 3 feet large. From December to March, the Chilean mesquite tree is semi-dormant, shedding much of its foliage in the winter. In the spring, tiny, catkin-like flowers emerge. The flowers are accompanied by pale yellow, oblong seedpods that mature and drop to the ground in the summer. With Prosopis alba, the Chilean mesquite tree quickly hybridizes. 

Plant the Chilean mesquite tree in direct sunlight. Water it every 10 to 15 days within the first year of growing with no or little additional water. Do not frequently irrigate mesquite trees, as this creates relatively fragile timber and an inadequate root system. Early age Chilean mesquite trees need to be pruned to shape up the tree. 

Within ideal conditions, mature trees can yield 40 kg of pods. Research findings of pod productivity carried out by North America, Hawaii and Sudan revealed productivity varies between 1 and 20 t/ha/year over a wide range. Development of pods occurs in November, consistently rising until it reaches a peak in March. In June, it then declines to a minimal, after which trees stop yielding. 

Chilean mesquite pros and cons

Chilean mesquite has many ecosystem advantages. Like other legumes, in its root nodules, Chilean mesquite eliminates nitrogen from the atmosphere. It generates shade for citrus trees, agricultural crops, homesteads, and livestock when grown as a hedgerow. It is a good choice for erosion control and land conservation in desert areas due to its dense rooting behavior. It could be used as a barrier plant.

Chilean mesquite pros:

  • It has the ability to self-fertilization
  • Lovely shade tree for the desert 
  • The unique structure of branches which provide good shade
  • Watering little to zero, as it grows naturally in the landscape
  • This plant is loved by Sonoran wildlife
  • It quickly grows in the desert even in hash and drought-like conditions
  • It tolerates intense sunlight
  • When cultivated as a hedgerow, it produces shade for citrus trees, agricultural crops, homesteads, and livestock
  • Owing to its dense rooting behavior, it is a good option for erosion control and land protection in desert areas.
  • Chilean mesquite kills atmospheric nitrogen

Chilean mesquite cons:

  • Root structure extends over the surface of the soil.
  • This tree may blow over if not properly pruned.
  • Branches quickly split during storms (cars and homes damaged each time)
  • Unless you like making pancakes with them, Mesquite pods are the messiest
  • Some of them have thorns
  • It should not be placed near pool setting due to its invasive root system

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