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Prosopis caldenia.jpg
Prosopis caldenia , a species of central Argentina.
Scientific classification

Type species
Prosopis spicigera
L. [3]

See text.

  • LagonychiumM. Bieb.
  • StrombocarpaEngelm. & Gray
  • SopropisBritt. & Rose

Prosopis is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae. It contains around 45 species of spiny trees and shrubs found in subtropical and tropical regions of the Americas, Africa, Western Asia, and South Asia. They often thrive in arid soil and are resistant to drought, on occasion developing extremely deep root systems. Their wood is usually hard, dense and durable. Their fruits are pods and may contain large amounts of sugar. The generic name means "burdock" in late Latin and originated in the Greek language. [4]

A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.

Flowering plant clade of flowering plants (in APG I-III)

The flowering plants, also known as angiosperms, Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants, with 64 orders, 416 families, approximately 13,164 known genera and c. 369,000 known species. Like gymnosperms, angiosperms are seed-producing plants. However, they are distinguished from gymnosperms by characteristics including flowers, endosperm within the seeds, and the production of fruits that contain the seeds. Etymologically, angiosperm means a plant that produces seeds within an enclosure; in other words, a fruiting plant. The term comes from the Greek words angeion and sperma ("seed").

Pea species of plant

The pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the pod fruit Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas, which can be green or yellow. Pea pods are botanically fruit, since they contain seeds and develop from the ovary of a (pea) flower. The name is also used to describe other edible seeds from the Fabaceae such as the pigeon pea, the cowpea, and the seeds from several species of Lathyrus.


Selected species


Mesquite is a common name for several plants in the genus Prosopis, which contains over 40 species of small leguminous trees. They are native to the southwestern United States and Mexico. The mesquite originates in the Tamaulipan mezquital ecoregion, in the deserts and xeric shrublands biome, located in the southern United States and northeastern Mexico. It has extremely long roots in order to seek water from very far underground. The region covers an area of 141,500 km2, encompassing a portion of the Gulf Coastal Plain in southern Texas, northern Tamaulipas, northeastern Coahuila, and part of Nuevo León. As a legume, mesquite is one of the few sources of fixed nitrogen in the desert habitat.

Southern United States Cultural region of the United States

The southern United States, also known as the American South, Dixie, Dixieland, or simply the South, is a region of the United States of America. It is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the western United States, with the midwestern United States and northeastern United States to its north and the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico to its south.

Mexico Country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the tenth most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

Formerly placed here


Prosopis species have been found to contain 5-hydroxytryptamine, apigenin, isorhamnetin-3-diglucoside, l-arabinose, quercetin, tannin, and tryptamine. [5]

Prosopis species known to contain alkaloids
Prosopis alba Beta-phenethylamine and tryptamine [6]
Prosopis alpataco "Aerial parts" contain tryptamine, phenethylamine derivatives. [7]
Prosopis argentina "Aerial parts" contain tryptamine, phenethylamine derivatives. [7]
Prosopis chilensis [ verification needed ]"Aerial parts" contain beta-phenethylamine and derivatives plus tryptamine [7] [8]
Prosopis argentina Exudate contains tryptamine, phenethylamine derivatives. [7]
Prosopis glandulosa Alkaloids in bark and roots, [5] tyramine and N-methyltyramine (a stimulant) in leaves [9]
Prosopis juliflora 5-HTP (plant) and tryptamine (plant). [10]
Prosopis nigra Harman, eleagnine, and N-acetyltryptamine [11]
Prosopis pugionata "Aerial parts" contain tryptamine, phenethylamine derivatives. [7]
Prosopis tamarugo Phenethylamine [8]

The tannins present in Prosopis species are of the pyrogallotannin and pyrocatecollic types. [12] The tannins are mainly found in the bark and wood while their concentration in the pods is low. [13]

Some species, such as P. africana or P. velutina , produce a gum (mesquite gum). [14]

As an introduced and invasive species

The species Prosopis pallida was introduced to Hawaii in 1828 and is now very common in the drier coastal parts of the islands, where it is called the kiawe tree, which is a prime source of monofloral honey production. [15]

In Australia, invasive Prosopis species are causing severe economic and environmental damage. With their thorns and many low branches, Prosopis shrubs form impenetrable thickets which prevent cattle from accessing watering holes, etc. They also take over pastoral grasslands and suck up scarce water. Prosopis species cause land erosion due to loss of grassland that are habitats for native plants and animals. Prosopis thickets also provide shelter for feral animals such as pigs and cats. [16]

For more information on invasiveness of mesquite species, see Prosopis glandulosa and Prosopis juliflora .


Eradicating Prosopis is difficult because the plant's bud regeneration zone can extend down to 6 in (150 mm) below ground level; [17] [18] the tree can regenerate from a piece of root left in the soil. [17] Some herbicides are not effective or only partially effective against mesquite. Spray techniques for removal, while effective against short-term regrowth, are expensive, costing more than $70/acre ($170/hectare) in the USA. Removing large trees requires tracked equipment; costs can approach $2,000 per acre. In Australia, several techniques are used to remove Prosopis. [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Smilax</i> genus of plants

Smilax is a genus of about 300–350 species, found in the tropics and subtropics worldwide. In China for example about 80 are found, while there are 20 in North America north of Mexico. They are climbing flowering plants, many of which are woody and/or thorny, in the monocotyledon family Smilacaceae, native throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Common names include catbriers, greenbriers, prickly-ivys and smilaxes. Sarsaparilla is a name used specifically for the Jamaican S. regelii as well as a catch-all term in particular for American species. Occasionally, the non-woody species such as the smooth herbaceous greenbrier are separated as genus Nemexia; they are commonly known by the rather ambiguous name carrion flowers.

<i>Parkinsonia</i> genus of plants

Parkinsonia, also Cercidium, is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae. It contains about 12 species that are native to semi-desert regions of Africa and the Americas. The name of the genus honors English apothecary and botanist John Parkinson (1567–1650).

<i>Terminalia</i> (plant) genus of plants

Terminalia is a genus of large trees of the flowering plant family Combretaceae, comprising around 100 species distributed in tropical regions of the world. This genus gets its name from Latin terminus, referring to the fact that the leaves appear at the very tips of the shoots.

<i>Prosopis juliflora</i> species of plant

Prosopis juliflora is a shrub or small tree in the family Fabaceae, a kind of mesquite. It is native to Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. It has become established as an invasive weed in Africa, Asia, Australia and elsewhere. It is a contributing factor to continuing transmission of malaria, especially during dry periods when sugar sources from native plants are largely unavailable to mosquitoes.

<i>Calandrinia</i> genus of plants

Calandrinia is a large genus of flowering plants known as purslanes and redmaids. It includes over 100 species of annual and perennial herbs which bear colorful flowers in shades of red to purple and white. Plants of this genus are native to Australia, western South America, Central America, and western North America. Some species have been introduced to parts of New Zealand, southern Africa, Asia, and Europe.

<i>Prosopis pallida</i> species of plant

Prosopis pallida is a species of mesquite tree. It has the common names kiawe, huarango and American carob, as well as "bayahonda", "algarrobo pálido", and "algarrobo blanco". It is a thorny legume, native to Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, particularly drier areas near the coast. While threatened in its native habitat, it is considered an invasive species in many other places.

<i>Prosopis tamarugo</i> species of plant

Prosopis tamarugo, commonly known as the tamarugo, is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae, subfamilia Mimosoideae. It is only found in northern Chile, particularly in the Pampa del Tamarugal, some 70 km (43 mi) east of the city of Iquique. This bushy tree apparently grows without the benefit of rainfall, and it is thought obtains some water from dew. Studies indicate it is a Phreatophyte ; having deep roots that tap into ground water supplies. It also participates in hydraulic redistribution moving water from deeper levels to the upper and also reversing the process in times of severe drought.

Mesquite Bosque

Mesquite Bosque is a vegetative association within the Southwestern United States, under the Kuchler scheme of plant association categories.

<i>Senegalia</i> genus of plants

Senegalia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Mimosoideae. Until 2005, its species were considered members of Acacia. The genus is still considered polyphyletic and will require further division. Senegalia can be distinguished from other acacias by its spicate inflorescences and non-spinescent stipules.

<i>Adesmia</i> (plant) genus of plants

Adesmia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It was recently assigned to the informal monophyletic Adesmia clade within the Dalbergieae.

<i>Asarina</i> genus of plants

Asarina is a flowering plant genus of only one species, Asarina procumbens, the trailing snapdragon, which is native to southern Europe. Originally placed in the Scrophulariaceae, the genus has more recently been moved to the Plantaginaceae. Species from North America formerly placed in the genus Asarina are now placed in Holmgrenanthe, Lophospermum, Mabrya and Maurandya, as well as Neogaerrhinum. Asarina is now regarded as exclusively an Old World genus.

Mesquitol chemical compound

Mesquitol is a flavan-3-ol, a type of flavonoid.

<i>Compsocerus violaceus</i> species of beetle

Compsocerus violaceus is a species of beetle in the family Cerambycidae. It occurs in South America, being common in southern Brazil, northern Argentina and Uruguay.

<i>Leucheria</i> genus of plants

Leucheria is a genus of flowering plants in the aster family.

<i>Prosopis chilensis</i> species of plant

Prosopis chilensis is a species of tree in the genus Prosopis, belonging to the family Fabaceae. It is found in parts of central Chile, southern Peru, Bolivia, and Andean (northwestern) Argentina. Its common names include Chilean mesquite, cupesí, and Chilean algarrobo. It is used for providing shade, for animal feed and for firewood.

Erythrostemon is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae.



  1. 1 2 The Legume Phylogeny Working Group (LPWG). (2017). "A new subfamily classification of the Leguminosae based on a taxonomically comprehensive phylogeny". Taxon . 66 (1): 44–77. doi:10.12705/661.3.
  2. "Prosopis L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 1999-03-05. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
  3. "Prosopis L." TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
  4. Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. 4 M-Q. CRC Press. p. 2171. ISBN   978-0-8493-2677-6.
  5. 1 2 Medicinal Plants of the Southwest Archived 2007-04-20 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Graziano MN, Ferraro GE, Coussio JD (December 1971). "Alkaloids of Argentine medicinal plants. II. Isolation of tyramine, beta-phenethylamine and tryptamine from Prosopis alba". Lloydia. 34 (4): 453–4. PMID   5173440.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Tapia A, Egly Feresin G, Bustos D, Astudillo L, Theoduloz C, Schmeda-Hirschmann G (July 2000). "Biologically active alkaloids and a free radical scavenger from Prosopis species". J Ethnopharmacol. 71 (1–2): 241–6. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(00)00171-9. PMID   10904169.
  8. 1 2 Luis Astudillo; Guillermo Schmeda-Hirschmann; Juan P Herrera; Manuel Cortés (April 2000). "Proximate composition and biological activity of Chilean Prosopis species". J Sci Food Agric. 80 (5): 567–573. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0010(200004)80:5<567::AID-JSFA563>3.0.CO;2-Y. Archived from the original on 2012-12-16.
  9. "Prosopis glandulosa". Retrieved 2008-05-01.
  10. Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases
  11. Constantino Manuel Torres; David B. Repke (15 March 2006). Anadenanthera: visionary plant of ancient South America. Psychology Press. pp. 134–. ISBN   978-0-7890-2642-2.
  12. P. juliflora as a source of food and medicine for rural inhabitants in Rio Grande do Norte. ROCHA, R. G. A. In: The Current State of Knowledge on Prosopis juliflora. (Eds.) M. A. Habit and J. C. Saavedra. FAO,, 1990 Rome, Italy, pages 397-403
  13. Pasiecznik, N.M.; Felker, P.; Harris, P.J.C.; Harsh, L.N.; Cruz, G.; Tewari, J.C.; Cadoret, K.; Maldonado, L.J. (2001). The Prosopis julifloraProsopis pallida Complex: A Monograph (PDF). ISBN   978-0-905343-30-3.
  14. Adikwu, MU; Ezeabasili, SI; Esimone, CO (2001). "Evaluation of the physico-chemical properties of a new polysaccharide gum from Prosopis africana". Bollettino Chimico Farmaceutico. 140 (1): 40–5. PMID   11338777.
  15. Prosopis pallida species info
  16. 1 2 ""Mesquite (Prosopis species)" Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Canberra" (PDF).
  17. 1 2 Mesquite Info
  18. The Mesquite

General references