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Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens)
Trees Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens)

General: Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens) are medium-sized, spindly, many branched, thorny trees with many straight, stout spines along the stems. They produce bean pods that are tightly twisted (like a screw) and grow in clumps.

Screwbean Mesquite are found in washes and other wet areas in the Lower Sonoran (Creosote-Bursage Flats) and Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub) life zones.

Mesquite often are parasitized by Mesquite Mistletoe, which appears as clumps of stems with white or red berries. Phainopepla depend on these berries for food, but they are toxic to humans.

 

Family: Pea (Fabaceae).

Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens)

Plant Form: Medium-sized, spindly, many branching tree.

Height: Usually 10-15 ft.

Trunk: Thick with rough bark.

Leaves: Compound leaves with small leaflets, typical of members of the pea family.

Flowers: Bottlebrush-shaped catkins on a stalk (spikes). Individual flowers are small, creamy or pale yellow, and tubular. Blooms during spring.

Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens)

Seeds: Small seeds produced in bean pods that are tightly twisted (like a screw). Individuals pods are clumped together.

Distribution: Southern California deserts, southern Nevada, and river drainages in Arizona that connect with the Colorado River. Patchily distributed across Arizona and New Mexico, then throughout the Rio Grande River system.

Elevation:

Comments: These plants indicate the presence of water, but their roots can penetrate 70-80 feet to reach it, so it probably isn't worth digging to find water.

Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens)
Screwbean mesquite flowers
Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens)
Screwbean mesquite flowers, each of which develops into a seed pod
Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens)
Seed pods
Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens)
Seed pods
Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens)
Seed pod cluster
Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens)
Seed pod clusters readily roll on the ground during windstorms, thereby dispersing the seeds

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 141120

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