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Prosopis alba     
Argentine mesquite   
Fabaceae Family     

Compiled by the Master Gardeners
of the University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension.


Form: upright, vase-shaped tree with broad canopy
Seasonality: semi evergreen
Size: 20-40ft, spread usually 2/3 height; fast growth rate (as much as 6ft/year)
Leaves: bipinnately compound in groups of 2 or 4; closely-spaced leaflets, paired leaflets, 1/4 to 1/4in long; 25-50 leaflets per pinnae
Flowers: small catkin; yellowish or cream; bloom in spring or early summer; only moderately showy
Fruit: pod to 8in long (more commonly 4-6in) 1/2in wide; generally very curvy, e.g. along flat side or twisted screw-like along edge or both; pods edible
Stems/Trunks: thorns usually present, sometimes strongly, usually large (1in) thorns in zig-zag form; dark rough bark
Range/Origin: Argentina, Bolivia, Chili
Hardiness: to low teens; hardiness varies between hybrids




Prosopis species hybridize readily and are difficult to distinguish. Plants with these same characteristics are also commonly identified as "South American hybrid" mesquite.

Leaflet count on P. alba is higher than P. chilensis.
Also, sometimes may distinguish this species by the presence of large thorns (but may or may not be present).

This species is genetically programmed for fast growth. With improper (shallow) watering, this trait creates a tendency to blow-over, i.e. large lush top growth with an inadequate root system. To help prevent blow-over, water less frequently, and deeply, to encourage radical (tap) root growth.

variety "Colorado" is thornless and has greater hardiness

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This page was first created June 23, 2001 and last modified May 16, 2004.

Web page design and photographs by Toni Moore, Master Gardener
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