velvet mesquite Fabaceae Prosopis
velutina Woot. symbol: PRVE
Leaf: Alternate, bipinnately compound, 3 to 6 inches long, usually with only two major leaflets (may occasionally have 2 to 3 pairs), each leaflet with 15 to 20 pairs of narrow minor leaflets (1/4 to 1/2 inch long) with entire margins and finely hairy surfaces, green to gray-green above, paler below.
Flower: Small pale yellow to yellow-green in 2 to 3 inch long slender spikes in clusters of 2 to 6, appearing late spring to early summer.
Fruit: A 3 to 7 inch long, tubular legume, short pointed, slightly swollen at seeds, light brown, ripening in mid to late summer.
Twig: Light brown, velvety, slightly zigzag with paired slender spines (up to 1 inch long) at the base of each leaf (occasionally there are few thorns); knobby spur branches may also be present.
Bark: Very distinct, rough shreddy to scaly, outer older bark gray-brown, newer bark reddish brown.
Form: A thicket forming small tree to large shrub (up to 25 feet), when undisturbed it typically has one dominant trunk, but when grazed or cut back several crooked and arching stems develop into a broad round crown.
Looks like: honey mesquite - screwbean mesquite - catclaw acacia
Additional Range Information: Prosopis velutina is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting velvet mesquite.
External Links: USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database - USDAFS Forest Products Lab
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson