The Prosopis Velutina
is commonly known as Velvet Mesquite
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The main distribution of velvet mesquite is confined to central and
southern Arizona, extreme southwestern New Mexico, and adjacent northern
]. The eastern boundary of its range is near the
Continental Divide in southern New Mexico [115
]. The Continental Divide
forms a natural boundary between populations of velvet mesquite and
honey mesquite (var. uncertain) [115
]. In California, velvet mesquite
is represented by only a few individuals that occur in Imperial,
Riverside, and Kern counties [57
]. This population is believed to be
from human introductions. A small, isolated population occurs in the
Rio Grande Valley, near El Paso, Texas [65
], that is also thought to be
The currently accepted scientific name of velvet mesquite is Prosopis
velutina Woot.(Fabaceae). There are no infrataxa [17
Inter- and intraspecific hybridization within mesquites (Prosopis spp.)
is common. Many intermediate forms exist, making identification
difficult at the specific or varietal level. Before settlement of the
Southwest by Europeans, speceis were separated by geographic barriers.
With the introduction of livestock, mesquites have spread, and now have
a more or less continuous distribution across the Southwest, which
allows for increased hybridization [65
The ranges of velvet mesquite and western honey mesquite (P. glandulosa
var. torreyana) overlap in western Arizona [56
] and hybrids are common
]. Plants in the vicinity of Guaymas, Sonora, and La Pas, Baja
California combine characteristics of velvet mesquite, western honey
mesquite, and honey mesquite (P. glandulosa var. glandulosa) [65
Velvet mesquite occurs in low elevation vegetation types, including
paloverde (Cercidium microphyllum)-bursage (Franseria deltoidea) cacti
(Opuntia spp.), desert grasslands, oak woodlands, and pinyon-juniper
(Pinus edulis-Juniperus spp.) woodlands . In desert grasslands, it
may be found in high enough densities to form "brushy ranges", but in
the other vegetation types it is generally found as scattered
individuals. Along major water coarses and their tributaries, however,
deciduous woodlands or "bosques" are often dominated by velvet mesquite.
Shrubby associates in desert grasslands include viscid acacia (Acacia
vernicosa), whitethorn acacia (A. constricta), catclaw acacia (A.
greggii), graythorn Condalia lycoides), ironwood (Olneya tesota),
burroweed (Haplopappus tenuisectus), hackberries (Celtis spp.), tarbush
(Flourensia cernua), and paloverde [15,30,55]. In drainage basins,
velvet mesquite often occurs in relatively pure stands of tobosa grass
(Hilaria mutica). On heavy-textured upland soils, velvet mesquite
occurs in pure stands of tobosa or sacaton (Sporobolus wrightii) .
Velvet mesquite is often interspersed in low elevation oak woodlands
dominated by Emory oak Quercus emoryi), Mexican blue oak (Q.
oblongifolia) and Arizona white oak (Q. arizonica) .
Mesquite bosques were typically open and parklike. Velvet mesquite
often forms nearly pure stands in these riparian situations but may also
be interspersed with other trees and shrubs such as netleaf hackberry
(Celtis reticulata), wolfberry (Lycium spp.), Mexican elder (Sambucus
mexicana), Southwestern condalia (Condalia obovata), and fourwing
saltbush (Atriplex canescens) [30,87,93]. The understory was
historically dominated by vine mesquite grass (Panicum obtusum),
careless weed (Amaranthus palmeri), and in saline areas, by saltbushes
(Atriplex spp.). Today, because of grazing and other disturbances, many
bosques have been invaded by introduced grasses and forbs, including
cutleaf filaree (Erodium cicutarium), mustard (Sisymbrium irio), red
brome (Bromus rubens), and schismus (Schismus barbatus) .
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Much of the information presented here is attributed to:
Uchytil, Ronald J. 1990. Prosopis velutina. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,
Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available at USDA Forest Service.