Mesquite (Prospis glandulosa) covers about 100 million acres in the southwestern states of American and in Mexico. Over 50 million of those acres are in Texas. Varieties include: honey mesquite, honey pod, algarobo, velvet mesquite, common mesquite, and western honey mesquite. In the desert plains, mesquite is more of a bush, but they can grow an average of 20 feet tall in other areas. A thorny tree, the mesquite flowers and produces bean in autumn.
The mesquite tree's root system can grow more than 100 feet down in search of water, making it a hardy survivor in harsh climates.
Long before the first Anglo settlers came to Texas, Native Americans used mesquite in its entirety, seeing it as an integral part of their culture. They made sewing needles from the thorns and used the inner bark to make baskets and fabric. The bean pods served as food and were used to make medicinal tea. The mesquite's sap was used for black dye and sweet gum, and, of course, the wood was used to make arrows and bows for hunting.
Early pioneers used mesquite for fence posts, wagon wheels and furniture, as well as fires for warmth and cooking. Mesquite slabs even served as street and walkway paving.