The “Tree of Life”: A Profile on the Mesquite Tree

We’ve all at least heard of mesquite wood.

But what actually makes the wood unique? Here we will dive a bit deeper into the unique aspects of the lumber, from where it is found to what differentiates it from the rest of the forest (or rather… the desert).

The Tree

Mesquite trees are found in most dry parts of the world, from West Texas to Bahrain. It is the most common shrub (small tree) in the south-west United States (1), and is actually a member of the legume family. There are three common species of mesquite trees; honey mesquite, screwbean mesquite, and velvet mesquite.

Mesquite trees are exceedingly useful.

“More than 200 plants and animal species depend on the mesquite tree for survival and reproduction. Bees in arid areas rely on its pollen to produce food for their young and honey for the winter. Deer, javelina, coyotes, jackrabbits, skunks, turkey, quail, and doves greedily consume the beans along with livestock of all kinds.”aneyefortexas, Chihuahan Desert Blog

The beans of mesquite trees have been used in history as coffee replacement and as a basic food source when all other food would run out. The pollen of the tree can be made into a unique honey, and the beans are still used today as livestock feed when pasture grasses are all eaten or destroyed by drought. Mesquite gum has medical treatments, such as to alleviate sunburn and to ease stomach distress, and the leaves of the tree could help to reduce headaches (1).

mesquite beans

The wood itself is extremely handy for firewood and building material. It seasons well, with minimal shrinkage or warp (3). “In the late 1800s, citizens of San Antonio paved the streets leading to their Texas shrine, the Alamo, with mesquite slabs. In testament to mesquite’s durability, remnants of the wood still surface from the activity of street maintenance”, Wood Magazine. It is commonly used as firewood for smoking meats as well.

For use in the home, it is most well known for its deep and red-toned color. For more advantages of using mesquite wood in your house, check out our post from January 2017.

Velvet_mesquite

The mesquite tree has a trusted reputation in the American south-west and in many parts of the world. By more than one party it has been dubbed the “Tree of Life” because of the many uses and benefits it affords.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.desertusa.com/flora/mesquite-tree.html
  2. https://aneyefortexas.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/mesquite-the-wonder-tree/
  3. http://www.woodmagazine.com/materials-guide/lumber/wood-species-2/mesquite

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