Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Chilean Mesquite
Prosopis chilensis

Family: Mimosaceae
Genus: Prosopis (PROS-oh-pis) (Info)
Species: chilensis (chil-ee-EN-sis) (Info)

Synonym:Ceratonia chilensis

5 members have or want this plant for trade.


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)
8.6 to 9.0 (strongly alkaline)
over 9.1 (very alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Click thumbnail
to view:

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #1 of Prosopis chilensis by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #2 of Prosopis chilensis by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #3 of Prosopis chilensis by Xenomorf

By Gustichock
Thumbnail #4 of Prosopis chilensis by Gustichock

By palmbob
Thumbnail #5 of Prosopis chilensis by palmbob

By Ursula
Thumbnail #6 of Prosopis chilensis by Ursula

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #7 of Prosopis chilensis by Xenomorf

There are a total of 21 photos.
Click here to view them all!


2 positives
2 neutrals
3 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive azjulieann On Jun 26, 2013, azjulieann from Mesa, AZ wrote:

I Love, Love, Love this Tree! I have the Thornless Variety of the Chilean Mesquite, and it is a Beauty! With it's Multiple Trunks, and Vast Canopy, it Provides a Beautiful, Shady Oasis in our Otherwise, Extremely HOT Backyard.

The Tree can be a Bit Messy, and Grows at an Exorbitant rate, so if you are not one that enjoys Yardwork, then this is probably Not the tree for you. This Tree Must be kept Thinned out, to allow wind to pass through its Expansive Branches. If you fail to ignore this important point, then the chances are high that you will lose your Beautiful Tree during Monsoon Season.

Negative RainwaterJunkie On Jul 29, 2010, RainwaterJunkie from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

Please, please please, consider planting Native Mesquites instead. I know that they are not as large, but the Chileans are ruining our native varieties (not to mention falling over on houses and cars because of their shallow roots!). **Most importantly, their pollen is mixing with the Velvet Mesquites and producing hybrids that do not have the delicious and diabeticly nutritious pod flour. If you live here, then please be a friend to the desert and care for our natives. Thanks :)

Negative Juttah On Apr 27, 2010, Juttah from Tucson, AZ (Zone 8a) wrote:

As others have mentioned, this tree can be MESSY. Our big one is a thornless hybrid, over 30 feet tall, about 15 years old. It drops leaves, twigs, pollen, flowers, seed pods... The leaves are tiny and follow you into the house, the car, and accumulate in cracks and crevices. Maybe one month out of the year where some portion of this tree isn't raining down on us.

We never water or fertilize it, and it still grows like a weed. Every year we spend hundreds of dollars to trim its ridiculously rampant growth. During active growth, it shoots out these LONG green branches, almost like a weeping willow. Last year our tree guy gave it some growth inhibitor, and I'm praying it works, I'm tired of shelling out big bucks to trim this tree. (Although we love the mesquite trimmings for barbecues.)

On the other hand, we have a smaller "thornless" specimen, 5-6 years old, that is much better behaved ... so far. It doesn't seem to be as fast-growing, nor as messy, although that may change as it gets older. Despite the name, this one has rose bush-size thorns on the older growth.

Pluses include nice shade, attracts birds, and no special care required, other than cleaning up the mess. I won't get rid of it, but if I ever need to replace it, it won't be with another mesquite. It could be there are variations in the Chilean mesquites and their hybrids, and we may have just gotten stuck with a very annoying one.

Negative Cherylgj On Mar 15, 2010, Cherylgj from Gilbert, AZ wrote:

Our mesquite tree is extremely messy and when the pods drop, they leave stains on our concrete sidewalk that I have not been able to get up, even with detergents, bleach, muriatic acid and a pressure washer.

Neutral ogrejelly On Jan 3, 2010, ogrejelly from Gilbert, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have a love hate relationship with this tree. I love the appearance and shape of this tree. It has a darker bark than most Mesquite and it grows extremely fast. Since being planted from a 15Gal bucket, it now towers over my house and shades half of my back yard. As soon as the temps reach 100+, this tree takes off and grows like no other. Very little water is needed and mine receives all of the water it needs through the plants under and around it. It has wonderful shape and can be pruned into a very beautiful tree. If you want instant shade, then this is your tree.

As far as the "hate" part goes, this tree is a lot of work. I would not recommend this tree is you are not active in your garden. In the Phoenix area it drops its leaves from early Dec through Feb. The fine blades from the leaf separate from the "stick" and you end up with both little micro sticks and fine blades of green. This will challenge any pool owner if one is nearby.

In the summer it then blooms puffy yellow flowers. This is followed by an amazing amount of beans. The mesquite flowers separate and the yellow can stain decking if you let it linger and get wet. The beans are pretty easy clean up but the quantity is staggering. It also gets tough is they fall down into agave, aloe, or any other similarly shaped and prickly plant below. Each year I harvest (pick up) seven full landscape garbage bags of beans. On the bright side I guess in bad times I could always live off of the Mesquite flower :)

Another consideration is that you must consider the old saying about Mesquite roots. "More of the Mesquite is under the ground than above." While I am not sure if this is true not, I have found baseball bat sized roots over 25' from the base.

My last comment is the thorns. I understand you can get a hybrid without them but mine has them - if you can get the hybrid. The thorns on mine are so strong and tough that they will go right into and through a work boot. They get me every time I try and trim the tree and I now consider my it my blood offering to the tree each time I try and tame it. The tree always wins!


Positive Judy81350 On Jul 2, 2005, Judy81350 from Queen Creek, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

These beauties are fast growing and very easy to shape. I have the thornless variety of Chilean Mesquite. I am going to attempt to take some cuttings and see how it goes. I water them once a week and they are thriving on that. Nice and green.

Neutral Xenomorf On Nov 23, 2004, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

It has thorns, but there's a thornless version that's cultivated.
Also can be grown from seeds.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Gilbert, Arizona
Green Valley, Arizona
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Maricopa, Arizona
Mesa, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Queen Creek, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona (2 reports)
Fallbrook, California
Henderson, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada
Corpus Christi, Texas

We recommend Firefox
Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2015 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.

Hope for America