Native to Southern Arizona, the velvet mesquite is a low branching, open tree with dark, almost black, shaggy bark. It grows wild along the washes, sometimes forming woods in the foothills surrounding Tucson. The velvet mesquite has gray-green, bi-pinnate leaves that are deciduous in cold weather. Multiple stems have stout thorns that can grow up to 3 inches long. Velvet mesquite tree grows to 25 feet tall with a 35 foot or greater spread. Its asymmetrical shape, multiple trunk and wide spreading crown are not conducive for use in small, space restricted areas. Pale yellow flowers appear in the late spring, clustered together in dense, pendulous spikes. These are followed by 3" to 9" long seedpods that ripen and drop to the ground during the summer. Perfect for low water use xeriscaping, velvet mesquite tree appears in large, open landscapes throughout Southern Arizona.
Velvet mesquite tree tolerates almost any soil type from well-drained, fertile soil to rocky, native soil. It can even be grown in a lawn as long as it is watered deeply and the soil is not too heavy. Newly planted velvet mesquite trees may require extensive staking until established, especially if an upright growth habit is desired. Velvet mesquite trees do not require supplemental fertilizer. Prune to thin, shape or raise the canopy in the late summer. Pruning this tree in spring causes rampant growth. During the first year, water velvet mesquite tree every seven to ten days. Once established, little or no additional water is required. Summertime seedpod litter may require cleanup in high traffic areas.