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Species – Mesquite

Species Information - Mesquite

Species Information

Found primarily in Northern Mexico, Mesquite represents a variety of species of leguminous plants of the Prosopis genus. Mesquite is a deciduous tree that generally grows to a height of 20 to 30 feet. The tree’s spine is so tough that it is capable of busting through the soft soles of shoes and can easily puncture tires.

Because of where the tree is found, Mesquite is a hardy, drought-resistant plant that is able to draw water from the water table through its long taproot (which can run as deep as 190 feet). Yet this attribute is also why many blame the tree for water loss in areas.

While flooring manufacturers find mesquite to be a great resource for wood, many ranchers view this plant as a nuisance because it competes with rangeland grasses for moisture.

Because it’s a legume, Mesquite helps to regulate nitrogen levels in the soil where it grows, thus improving soil fertility.

The bean pods of the Mesquite tree can be dried and ground into flour, which adds a sweet, nutty taste to breads. This flour can be used in combination with – or in place of – other flours for common foods such as muffins, pancakes, breads and cookies.

In the early 1800s, Mesquite (specifically Prosopis pallida) was introduced to Hawaii, and is now quite common in the drier coastal regions of the islands. In Hawaii, the Mesquite tree is known as the Kiawe Tree. In Australia, the introduction of the Mesquite tree has had far more damaging repercussions, including preventing cattle from accessing water and causing land erosion due to loss of grassland.

Scientific Names

Origin

Mesquite is found in Northern Mexico, including the Sonoran Desert, the Chihuahuan Deserts, as well as in Southwestern United States, the Colorado Desert in California as well as in Kansas.

Crossover Names:

While not crossover names, common names for Mesquite include Honey Mesquite, Velvet Mesquite, Creeping Mesquite, and Screwbean Mesquite.

It can also be referred to as Texas Ironwood.

Janka Rating

The Janka hardness rating for Honey Mesquite is 2,340.

Honey Mesquite Janka Scale Rating 2,340

The rating for African Mesquite (Prosopis Africana, found in Tropical Africa) is 2,940.

African Mesquite Janka Scale Rating 2,940

The rating for Black Mesquite (Prosopis nigra, found in South America) is 1,940.

Black Mesquite Janka Scale Rating 1,940

*The Janka rating measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear. Click Here for more info.

Appearance

In North America, the most common Mesquite used for flooring is Honey Mesquite. The heartwood of Honey Mesquite tends to be a reddish brown and darkens over time. The sapwood is thin colored, and lightly yellow.

The texture of Mesquite is coarse with open pores. It has a slight, natural luster. Portions of the tree’s trunk have straight or wavy grain. However, knots, defects, and other irregularities are common.

Workability

The workability of Mesquite is highly dependent on the quality of the wood. Lumber that is free of defects will be generally easy to work with using both hand and machine tools. The irregular grains or knots found in Mesquite can make things more challenging. Mesquite glues, turns and finishes well.

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Click below for a detailed discription of the different species of hardwood.

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