If you live in the southwest and want a lovely tree, try Cascalote. What is a Cascalote? It is a Mexican native, small tree to shrub. Gardeners in warm regions can try growing Cascalote in containers or in sunny spots of the garden. The plant is extremely adaptable and a water-wise choice.
What is a Cascalote?
One of the biggest Cascalote tree problems is its thorns, which are similar to rose thorns. This makes it a poor choice for homes with children. There is a new cultivar, however, that has been bred without thorns although, the thorns are what help make the tree so drought tolerant. It’s beautiful foliage and colorful blooms are worth the danger though.
Cascalote is native to southern Mexico where it is found in mesas, slopes, and desert washes. It may be evergreen or deciduous and is cold hardy to 25 degrees F. (-4 C.). The tree can grow 15-20 feet (5-6 m.) tall but can easily be kept pruned for a container. The leaves are bipinnate and ornamental, each bearing eight to ten leaflets.
The young thorns have a purplish tinge and mature to brown gray. In fall to winter the tree will be covered with golden panicles of flowers. The fruit is a yellow green when young but turns an attractive reddish brown.
Among the more important tidbits of Cascalote information is its inclusion in the legume family. That means the plant fixes nitrogen in the soil, a benefit for all your other plants. Cascalote pods are a source of both tannin and gallic acids. These are used in the Mexican tanning industry.
If you want to try growing Cascalote the seeds inside the pods need scarification to breech dormancy and germinate. Use sandpaper or a knife to make small nicks on the seed. It will also help to soak the seed overnight before planting in a gritty soil.
Cascalote Tree Care
Cascalote forms a small, multi-trunked tree which looks most attractive if limbed up to an arching canopy. The tree takes very well to pruning but beware of the thorns and wear protective clothing. Prune in spring after the plant is finished blooming.
Cascalote is drought tolerant but does need infrequent deep watering. Cascalote tree care in containers is a bit more intensive. Plants in containers need more frequent watering, annual fertilizer, and should be moved to a sheltered location if a freeze threatens. There are few Cascalote tree problems. White flies seem to be the only issue of note.