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Honey mesquite is a shrub or small tree to 30 ft. The crown spreads a distance equal or more to the height. Twigs are armed with sharp thorns up to 2 inches long especially on young plants. Twice-compound, deciduous leaves are very bright-green and feathery. Leaflets up to 2 inches long and 3 1/16 inch wide. Tiny, yellow-green, fragrant flowers occur in dense, spike-like racemes appearing in April and as late as August during wet summers. Fruit a long, yellowish brown pod, somewhat flattened and with slight constrictions between the seeds.
The seeds are disseminated by livestock that graze on the sweet pods, and the shrubs have invaded grasslands. Cattlemen regard mesquites as range weeds and eradicate them. In sandy soils, dunes often form around shrubby mesquites, burying them except for a rounded mass of branching tips. The deep taproots, often larger than the trunks, are grubbed up for firewood. Southwestern Indians prepared meal and cakes from the pods. As the common name indicates, this species is also a honey plant. The word "mesquite" is a Spanish adaptation of the Aztec name "mizquitl."
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