Honey mesquite is a willow-like, deciduous tree with an open, spreading crown and low growing, twisted branches. It reaches heights of thirty-five feet with a thirty- to forty-foot spread. The tree has a delicate leaf canopy and gray, sculptural, single or multiple trunks, and produces a weeping structure with willowy, deep green foliage. It loses all its leaves in winter and new foliage sprouts in early spring. Creamy white, slightly fragrant blossoms appear in the spring followed by long, thin, tan seedpods in summer. The blossoms contain a great deal of nectar and are pollinated by bees. When the tree is about three years old, it begins to produce seeds, which are encased within a fruit that is eaten and then dispersed by deer, antelopes, javelina, squirrels, quail, and turkeys. Seedpods from the honey mesquite are still used today in Mexico for food and to make a beverage. This tree is considered an important food source since it bears fruit even during extreme drought situations. The structural branches of the mesquite produce tiny thorns, but there are some thorns-less varieties available. Use it as a shade or specimen tree in residential areas, commercial locations, or park settings where it can spread out, since it has a natural, irregular growth pattern. It can also be used as a shrub or low growing tree for screening or as a windbreak. Also, consider creating a grove of three or more trees to attract wildlife. The tree grows natively along stream banks, plains, and foothills, and in areas where groundwater is available in southwestern Arizona, southern California, and northern Mexico, east to central Texas, and north to Kansas and Oklahoma.
It likes full sun and reflected heat, and is hardy to ten degrees Fahrenheit or lower. The honey mesquite grows in a variety of soils but prefers them to be well-draining. It is drought-tolerant, but grows quicker with supplemental irrigation. Prune during the dormant season and stake young trees as needed to develop a sturdy trunk.