Mesquite hybrids

(Prosopis x. spp.)

A full Mesquite tree at Sunnylands Center and Gardens.

The gardens are filled with a variety of thorn-less hybrid mesquites. In fact, other than the four Sweet Acacia trees that frame the motor circle in front of the Center, mesquites are the only brown-barked trees in the garden. Their bark colors range from a gray-brown to a deep red-brown and they display a variety of smooth and rough textures.

Mesquites grow naturally as multi-branching trees, which allows them to bend with the strong desert winds. In most of the garden, you will see this multi-trunk growth pattern, but for accessibility in the parking lot and along some paths, they are trained to grow in a single-trunk standard. Whenever possible, natural growth patterns should be encouraged.

As a tribute to Leonore Annenberg, all the trees selected for the Center & Gardens have yellow blooms, one of her favorite colors, and the mesquites are no exception. In the spring, they form dense groupings of yellow tubular flower clusters.

Like many native desert trees, mesquites are legumes, which nourish the desert floor by dropping nitrogen-rich leaves, seedpods, and branches. These fertile grounds offer opportunities for young, fragile plants to get an easier start, but it also means that they require more cleanup.

Their sweet seedpods have been a food staple for humans and native wildlife alike.

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