What Are Some Facts About the Chilean Mesquite?


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The Chilean mesquite is a deciduous tree native to South America, popular as a shade tree in the American Southwest. It thrives on full sun and requires little water. Dormant in winter, the Chilean mesquite's greenish yellow or near-white flowers are abundant in spring and summer. While unable to survive the colder winters of most of North America, the Chilean mesquite is hardy to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

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With mature growth the Chilean mesquite reaches a height of 30 feet, with a spread of 40 feet or more. The tree is semi-dormant between December and April, when it sheds most of its foliage.

The Chilean mesquite craves alkaline soil. It should be watered every week to 10 days after first established for up to one year. After the first year, additional moisture is not only not required, but potentially harmful to the tree's wood and root system. Young trees require some pruning to shape, and mature trees benefit from late fall pruning to raise the canopy and remove suckers and water spouts.

Some hybrids of the Chilean mesquite can be bred without thorns, but the species has spines and sharp edges and should be handled with caution. This tree has many admirers for its abundant shade and drought tolerance.

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