Flowers, Fruits, and Leaves
Prosopis velutina is a USA-NPN regional plant species. Regional species are ecologically or economically important but are distributed more locally than calibration species. The NPN integrates these observations to understand better plant responses within the different geographic regions of the nation.
In addition, this species is a moderate allergen. Observations on its phenology will provide valuable information to benefit people with allergies and the public health community.
Prosopis velutina is a perennial shrub or tree that can grow to 30 feet tall with a spreading rounded crown. The trunk is rough- textured and has shaggy gray to brown bark. The branches of velvet mesquite are often gnarly and crooked with spines. Its semi-deciduous leaves are divided into many leaflets. Tiny, fragrant, cream to yellow flowers occur in a catkin-like raceme. Its fruits are edible legumes (seed pods) that are flat and tan, sometimes streaked with red.
Prosopis velutina is found below 5,500 feet in desert washes, canyons, slopes and mesas, in desert grassland, and sometimes with oaks. It prefers full sun and will tolerate cold to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. It does well in dry, hot climates and is drought tolerant. Its soil preference is adaptable, but it does best in deep alkaline, uniform soil. Velvet mesquite needs infrequent, deep water due to its deep, massive taproot system.
Prosopis velutina is an important tree for wildlife. The seeds are eaten by small mammals, birds, and livestock. Some small mammals also consume the foliage. Various birds and other animals also use the tree for nesting, cover, and shade. In addition, honeybees prefer the flowers of velvet mesquite to make a sweet honey. Some people in the Southwest use Prosopis velutina as a choice species for residential and commercial landscaping.
You should observe...
Here are the phenophases you should observe about this plant.
||Breaking leaf buds
One or more breaking leaf buds are visible on the plant. A leaf bud is considered "breaking" once a green leaf tip is visible at the end of the bud, but before the first leaf from the bud has unfolded to expose the leaf stalk (petiole) or leaf base.
One or more live unfolded leaves are visible on the plant. A leaf is considered "unfolded" once the leaf stalk (petiole) or leaf base is visible. New small leaves may need to be bent backwards to see whether the leaf stalk or leaf base is visible. Do not include dried or dead leaves.
|Increasing leaf size
A majority of leaves on the plant have not yet reached their full size and are still growing larger. Do not include new leaves that continue to emerge at the ends of elongating stems throughout the growing season.
One or more fresh flowers or flower heads (inflorescences) are visible on the plant. Flower heads include many small flowers that usually do not open all at once. Do not include wilted or dried flowers that remain on the plant, or heads whose flowers have all wilted or dried.
One or more open fresh flowers are visible on the plant. Flowers are considered "open" when the reproductive parts (male stamens or female pistils) are visible between unfolded or open flower parts. Do not include wilted or dried flowers that remain on the plant.
One or more flowers on the plant release pollen when gently shaken or blown.
One or more fresh fruits are visible on the plant.
One or more ripe fruits are visible on the plant.
|Recent fruit drop
One or more fresh mature fruits or seeds have dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit. Do not include obviously immature fruits that have dropped before ripening, such as in a heavy rain or wind.
If drought seems to be the cause of leaf color or fall for a plant, please make a comment about it for that observation.
Velutina refers to the velvety texture of the foliage. Prosopis velutina is a valuable native of the Southwest. The wood is used for fenceposts, firewood, and as an aromatic charcoal for barbecuing. The seed pods of velvet mesquite were an important food source for Native Americans in the Southwest and were ground into a nourishing meal. The black gum and leaves from the tree were used medicinally, and the bark was used to make baskets and fabrics. Velvet mesquite is native to the U.S. and is in the Fabaceae (pea) family.
Gardens with this plant