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Mesquite trees (genus Prosopis) are found in the United States from Central Texas to southeastern California and from southwestern Utah to Mexico. These evergreen trees generally reach a height of 6 to 9 meters (20 to 30 ft). They have narrow, bipinnately compound leaves 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) long which are sharply pointed.

Mesquite tree

Mesquite is an extremely hardy, drought-tolerant plant. Many people, especially ranchers, consider the tree a nuisance because it competes with rangeland grasses for moisture. Eradicating mesquite is difficult. The tree can regenerate from a piece of root left in the ground. Some herbicides are not effective against mesquite, and others do not get a complete kill.

New growth of mesquite has needle-sharp thorns up to 7.5 cm (3 in) long. The spines are tough enough to penetrate the soft soles of tennis shoes or similar footwear, and can easily puncture tires.

On the good side, mesquite trees grow fast and furnish shade where other trees will not grow. The wood is hard, allowing it to be used for furniture, implements, and firewood as it burns slowly. When used to barbecue, the smoke from the wood adds a distinct flavor to the meat. The bean pods of the mesquite can be dried and ground into flour or used to make jelly or even wine.

Some common species of Mesquite are Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina), Creeping Mesquite (Prosopis strombulifera) and Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens).