Screwbean Mesquite Info: Tips For Screwbean Mesquite Care

Screwbean Mesquite Tree
screwbean mequite
(Image credit: Katja Schulz)

The screwbean mesquite is a small tree or shrub native to southern California. It sets itself apart from its traditional mesquite cousin with its attractive, corkscrew-shaped bean pods that appear in the summer. Keep reading to learn more screwbean mesquite info, including screwbean mesquite care and how to grow screwbean mesquite trees.

Screwbean Mesquite Info

What is a screwbean mesquite tree? Hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10, the screwbean mesquite tree (Prosopis pubescens) ranges from the American Southwest and Texas into Central and South America. It is small for a tree, usually topping out at 30 feet (9 m.) in height. With its multiple trunks and spreading branches, it can sometimes grow to be wider than it is tall. It differs from its cousin, the traditional mesquite tree, in a few ways. Its spines and leaves are smaller, and there are fewer of these leaves in every cluster. Instead of red, its stems are a duller gray color. The most striking difference is the shape of its fruit, which earns the plant its name. The seed pods, which are light green and 2 to 6 inches (5-15 cm.) in length, grow in a very tightly coiled spiral shape.

How to Grow a Screwbean Mesquite Tree

Growing screwbean mesquite trees in your landscape or garden is relatively easy, provided your climate is the right one. These trees prefer sandy, well-drained soil and full sun. They are relatively tolerant of drought. They can handle pruning and shaping and can be trimmed into a shrub or tree-like shape with a single or several bare trunks and raised foliage. If left unpruned, the branches will sag down to sometimes touch the ground. The pods are edible and can be eaten raw when they are young in the spring or pounded into meal when dry in the autumn.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.