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Honey Mesquite

A signature plant of south Texas, the mesquite tree’s popularity as a landscape tree is growing rapidly.    Its spreading canopy gives dappled shade and relief from our brutal summer sun.      The mesquites pictured above are growing along a slope leading down to a resaca.   Mesquite trees are not picky about the soil they grow in.  The soil here is heavy clay.     They are also salt-tolerant so can be used in coastal areas.

Because of its attractiveness and drought-tolerance, they are one of the backbone trees of water-wise landscapes.    Small leaves make it very drought tolerant and easy-care. Whitish catkins (or flowers) appear in the spring and become soft-podded beans by summer.   Livestock and wildlife graze on these beans.   They have a slightly sweet taste and are often called “Honey Mesquite”.

Mesquite is deciduous but retains some leaves in mild winters.   It is fairly tidy to plant along driveways and patios.   Expect a small amount of fruit drop in the fall.

This second picture is the view that I often see as I leave for work in the mornings.   I expect this was taken in winter since it doesn’t look like the tree has many leaves.   But even fully leafed out, a sunrise will filter through the lacey foliage of a Honey Mesquite.   It’s definitely one of my favorite South Texas trees.

Mary Beth

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