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Prosopis juliflora
Prosopis juliflora.jpg
Young tree
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Mimosoideae
Tribe: Mimoseae
Genus: Prosopis
Species: P. juliflora
Binomial name
Prosopis juliflora
(Sw.) DC.

Many, see text

A scene of Prosopis juliflora

Prosopis juliflora (Spanish: bayahonda blanca) is a shrub or small tree in the Fabaceae family, a kind of mesquite. It is native to Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. It has become established as an invasive weed in Africa, Asia, Australia and elsewhere.[1]


The mesquite tree grows to a height of up to 12 metres (39 ft) and has a trunk with a diameter of up to 1.2 metres (3.9 ft).[2] Its leaves are deciduous, bi-pinnate, light green, compounded with 12 to 20 leaflets. Flowers shortly after leaf development. The flowers are in 5–10 cms. long green-yellow cylindrical spikes, which occur in clusters of 2 to 5 at the ends of branches. Pods are 20 to 30 cms. long and contain between 10 and 30 seeds per pod. A mature plant can produce hundreds of thousands of seeds. Seeds remain viable for up to 10 years. The tree reproduces by way of seeds, not vegetatively. Seeds are spread by cattle and other animals that consume the seed pods and spread the seeds in their droppings.[3]

Its roots are able to grow to a great depth in search of water: in 1960, they were discovered at a depth of 53 meters (175 feet) at an open-pit mine near Tucson, Arizona,[4][5] putting them among the deepest known roots.

This is said to have been introduced to Sri Lanka in the 19th century, where it is now known as vanni-andara, or katu andara in Sinhala. But given its existence and recognition even as a holy tree in ancient India[citation needed], that claim is unlikely to be true as it had been mistaken for Acacia nilotica. The tree is believed to have existed in the Vanni and Mannar regions for a long time. This species has thorns in pairs at the nodes but thornless internodes. It may also be almost thornless.


Its uses include forage, wood and environmental management. The plant possesses an unusual amount of the flavanol (-)-mesquitol in its heartwood.[6]

Invasive Species[edit]

Prosopis juliflora has become an invasive weed in several countries where it was introduced. It is considered a noxious invader in Ethiopia, in Hawaii, in Sri Lanka, Jamaica, the Middle East,[7] India, Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia, Senegal and southern Africa. It is also a major weed in the southwestern United States. It is hard and expensive to remove as the plant can regenerate from the roots.[8]

In Australia, mesquite has colonized more than 800,000 hectares of arable land, having severe economic and environmental impacts. With its thorns and many low branches it forms impenetrable thickets which prevent cattle from accessing watering holes, etc. It also takes over pastoral grasslands and uses scarce water. Livestock which consume excessive amounts of seed pods are poisoned. It causes land erosion due to the loss of the grasslands that are habitats for native plants and animals. It also provides shelter for feral animals such as pigs and cats.[8]

In the Afar Region in Ethiopia, where the mesquite was introduced in the late 1970s and early 1980s, its aggressive growth leads to a monoculture, denying native plants water and sunlight, and not providing food for native animals and cattle. The Regional government with the non-governmental organisation FARM-Africa are looking for ways to commercialize the tree's wood, but pastoralists who call it the "Devil Tree" insist that P. juliflora be eradicated.[9]

In Sri Lanka this mesquite was planted in the 1950s near Hambantota as a shade and erosion control tree. It then invaded the grass lands in and around Hambantota and the Bundala National Park, causing similar problems as in Australia and Ethiopia.[3]


Vernacular names[edit]

Prosopis juliflora has a wide range of vernacular names, although no widely used English one except for "mesquite", which is used for several species of Prosopis. It is called bayahonda blanca in Spanish and bayarone Français in French. Other similar names are also used, including bayahonde, bayahonda and bayarone but these may also refer to any other Neotropical member of the genus Prosopis. The tree is known by a range of other names in various parts of the world, including algarrobe, cambrón, cashaw, épinard, mesquite, mostrenco, or mathenge.[10] Many of the less-specific names are because over large parts of its range, it is the most familiar and common species of Prosopis, and thus to locals simply "the" bayahonde, algarrobe, etc. "Velvet mesquite" is sometimes given as an English name, but properly refers to a different species, Prosopis velutina.[2]

Names in and around Indian Subcontinent, where the species is widely used for firewood and to make barriers, often compare it to similar trees and note its introduced status; thus in Hindi it is called angaraji babul, Kabuli kikar, vilayati babul, vilayati khejra or vilayati kikar. The angaraji and vilayati names mean they were introduced by Europeans, while Kabuli kikar (or keekar) means "Kabul acacia"; babul specifically refers to the Gum Arabic Tree (Acacia nilotica) and khejra (or khejri) to Prosopis cineraria, both of which are native to South Asia. In Gujarati it is called gando baval and in Marwari, baavlia.In Karnataka, in Kannada it is known as "Ballaari Jaali" meaning Jaali, local name, abundant in and around Bellary district. In Tamil Nadu, in Tamil language it is known as cheemai karuvel (சீமைக்கருவேலை), a quite literal equivalent of vilayati babul. A vernacular Tamil name is velikathan(வேலிகாத்தான்), from veli (வேலி) "fence" + kathan (காத்தான்) "protector", for its use to make spiny barriers. In Andhra Pradesh, in the Telugu language it is known as mulla tumma (ముల్ల తుమ్మ) or sarkar tumma.

In the Wayuu language, spoken on the La Guajira Peninsula in northern Colombia and Venezuela, it is called trupillo or turpío.[11]

Parts drawing from the 1880-1883 edition of F.M. Blanco's Flora de Filipinas.
Blanco already suspected that Prosopis vidaliana, then quite recently described, was identical with bayahonda blanca.
Prosopis juliflora belongs to family of Fabaceae


This plant has been described under a number of now-invalid scientific names:[1]

  • Acacia cumanensis Willd.
  • Acacia juliflora (Sw.) Willd.
  • Acacia salinarum (Vahl) DC.
  • Algarobia juliflora (Sw.) Heynh.
Algarobia juliflora as defined by G. Bentham refers only to the typical variety, Prosopis juliflora var. juliflora (Sw.) DC
  • Desmanthus salinarum (Vahl) Steud.
  • Mimosa juliflora Sw.
  • Mimosa piliflora Sw.
  • Mimosa salinarum Vahl
  • Neltuma bakeri Britton & Rose
  • Neltuma juliflora (Sw.) Raf.
  • Neltuma occidenatlis Britton & Rose
  • Neltuma occidentalis Britton & Rose
  • Neltuma pallescens Britton & Rose
  • Prosopis bracteolata DC.
  • Prosopis cumanensis (Willd.) Kunth
  • Prosopis domingensis DC.
  • Prosopis dulcis Kunth var. domingensis (DC.)Benth.
C.S. Kunth's Prosopis dulcis is Smooth Mesquite (P. laevigata), while P. dulcis as described by W.J. Hooker is Caldén (P. caldenia).

Prosopis chilensis was sometimes considered to belong here too, but it is usually considered a good species these days.[2] Several other authors misapplied P. chilensis to Honey Mesquite (P. glandulosa).[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Prosopis juliflora - ILDIS LegumeWeb". www.ildis.org. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  2. ^ a b c "Prosopis juliflora". www.hort.purdue.edu. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  3. ^ a b Lalith Gunasekera, Invasive Plants: A guide to the identification of the most invasive plants of Sri Lanka, Colombo 2009, pp. 101-102.
  4. ^ Phillips, W. S. (1963). "Depth of Roots in Soil". Ecology 44 (2): 424–967. doi:10.2307/1932198.  edit
  5. ^ Raven, Peter H.; Evert, Ray F.; Eichhorn, Susan E., ed. (2005). "Chapter 24". Biology of Plants (7th Edition ed.). New York, USA: Freeman. pp. 528–546. ISBN 0-7167-1007-2. 
  6. ^ Unusual amount of (-)-mesquitol from the heartwood of Prosopis juliflora. Sirmah Peter, Dumarcay Stephane, Masson Eric and Gerardin Philippe, Natural Product Research, Volume 23, Number 2, January 2009 , pp. 183-189
  7. ^ Mughal, Muhammad Aurang Zeb. 2013. "Persian Gulf Desert and Semi-desert." Biomes & Ecosystems, Vol. 3, Robert Warren Howarth (ed.). Ipswich, MA: Salem Press, pp. 1000-1002.
  8. ^ a b ”Mesquite (Prosopis species)” Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Canberra, at http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/weeds/publications/guidelines/wons/pubs/prosopis.pdf
  9. ^ Caroline Irby, "Devil of a problem: the tree that's eating Africa" (accessed 14 January 2009)
  10. ^ "Factsheet: Prosopis juliflora (prosopis or mesquite)". 
  11. ^ Villalobos et al. (2007)


  • Duke, James A. (1983): Prosopis juliflora DC.. In: Handbook of Energy Crops. Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products. Version of 1998-JAN-08. Retrieved 2008-MAR-19.
  • International Legume Database & Information Service (ILDIS) (2005): Prosopis juliflora. Version 10.01, November 2005. Retrieved 2007-DEC-20.
  • Villalobos, Soraya; Vargas, Orlando & Melo, Sandra (2007): Uso, manejo y conservacion de "yosú", Stenocereus griseus (Cactaceae) en la Alta Guajira colombiana [Usage, Management and Conservation of yosú, Stenocereus griseus (Cactaceae), in the Upper Guajira, Colombia]. [Spanish with English abstract] Acta Biologica Colombiana 12(1): 99-112. PDF fulltext

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosopis_juliflora — Please support Wikipedia.
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194 news items

The Hindu
Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:11:15 -0700

By another resolution, the association urged the government to root out the 'karuvelam' ( Prosopis juliflora ) trees in all the water bodies in the State in order to conserve the groundwater resources of these water bodies. The resolution wanted the ...
Times of India
Thu, 04 Jun 2015 14:45:00 -0700

The state minister of environment and forest, Captain Abhimanyu, announced the government will set up a nursery for traditional species of trees such as Kikar (prosopis juliflora), teak, Jaal (Salvadora oleiodes) and Khair (Senegalia catechu). He also ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Wed, 03 Jun 2015 17:05:53 -0700

The district might have been branded as “water-starved” when compared to other districts in the south, but it continues to be the most preferred destination for the terrestrial and migratory birds as more than 13,000 birds visited the bird sanctuaries ...


Tue, 02 Jun 2015 03:45:55 -0700

“MSSRF genes for salt tolerance from the mangrove species Avicennia marina and from Prosopis juliflora for drought tolerance have been transferred to rice varieties. Unless field testing is permitted, we will not be able to assess the benefits and ...
The Guardian
Fri, 01 May 2015 04:52:13 -0700

Our Keep it in the ground campaign has met with support from scientists across the globe, imploring the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust to divest from fossil fuels. From university professors to field researchers, marine biologists ...

The National

The National
Sun, 05 Apr 2015 04:58:36 -0700

Prosopis juliflora, popularly known as mesquite, was introduced in the 1970s but is now growing in dense forests in the valleys of the Northern Emirates. The species has a local name, ghoeif, which is similar to that of its cousin the ghaf, a native ...

The Indian Express

The Indian Express
Tue, 07 Apr 2015 05:36:09 -0700

The lion, about 2.5 year old, was found in a thicket of gando baval (prosopis juliflora) on the side of Kankaria lake on Bandar Road at around 7 am. Later, its carcass was taken to Animal Rescue Centre in Ranigala for post-mortem. “The lion was found ...
Africa Science News Service
Mon, 11 May 2015 09:52:30 -0700

Bunyala Sub County in Busia County has become the next victim of Mathenge shrub invasion after Garisa, Baringo, Mandera Tana River Counties. The plant has been spotted in upper parts of Budalangi. Mathenge (Prosopis juliflora) is a fast growing and ...

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