Herbs & Plants
Of The Southwest
Latin Name: Prosopis velutina, juliflora or glandulosa Common Names: Honey Mequite, Screwbean, Tornillo
The Mesquite tree is more common today than in ancient times, because it has filled in depleted, overgrazed areas of former grasslands, ravaged by the overgrazing so common in the Southwest. ( Also a major cause of land-cutting damage from arroyos and washes). Mesquite beans were used by the Native Americans of Southern New Mexico, Arizona and Mexico as a major food source. The dried beans were ground and made into Pinole, and were fermented by the Pima to make an alcoholic beverage. The gum was used as a black dye for weaving and to mend pottery. Mesquite was an important source of fuel and building material to the early white settlers of the Southwest.
Mesquite is one of the most common desert trees, growing below 5,000 feet in altitude, near washes or at road edges, where it can catch the little extra bit of water that it needs. The leaves are feathery, the branches have strong, straight thorns, and the flowers are attractive, fragrant, yellow catkins. You may collect the leaves, flowers, pod and bark for medicinal use. A tea made from Mesquite is astringent and antibacterial, and is useful internally for diarrhea and GI tract inflammations, ranging from ulcers to colitis. Used externally, the tea makes a good antiseptic wash for any irritated or broken skin injuries.
It is best to make the tea fresh for each use, but can be stored up to 2 weeks under refrigeration.
Be sure of the identity of the plant before you use it. If a preparation makes you sick or gives you a rash, don't use it, and throw it away! If your condition does not improve, see your doctor. Be sure to let your physician know EVERYTHING that you are taking!