The Enduring Mesquite
Karen Husum Clary, Ph.D., Botanist
Desert-dwelling native Americans refer to mesquite as the “tree of life” because almost every part of the mesquite tree has a use. Mesquite fed, sheltered and sustained native people long before agriculture was adopted 4,000 years ago. It remains one of the most important plants in both traditional and modern cultures in this part of the world.
Mesquite is a plant adapted to the harshest of conditions – It survives extreme heat, drought, and poor soil. Yet, it’s figured out a way to thrive where it grows. Mesquite has always been generous to humankind. Its flowers and fruits feed us, its branches shelter and shade us, its wood gives us fuel and the chemicals within each cell give us medicines.
The mesquite tree is a reminder of the seasons of our lives. In spring its tender green leaves burst forth with the promise of birth and renewal. Its delicate yellow flowers perfume the air, awakening our senses to life’s pleasures yet to come. In summer, its fruits nourish all who partake, humans and wildlife alike so we may live and thrive. In fall, leaves turn golden and drop, laying bare twisting branches which mark this season of decline and reflection. The winter landscape shows what remains of the mesquite – a naked tree, hardened to the cold and wind, enduring. Waiting to renew.
Honey mesquite Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa Torr. Fabaceae (Bean or Legume Family) https://texasbeyondhistory.net/st-plains/nature/images/mesquite.html
Nabham, Gary Paul. 2018. Mesquite: An Arboreal Love Affair. Chelsea Green Publishing