Rewarding Gardening Experiments- Mesquite

Discussion in 'Crops & Gardens' started by Frank Sanoica, Sep 29, 2016.

  1. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    Here are a few pics of my efforts at growing local, desert-type, plants from seed. All those scrubby-looking plants in the desert here produce seeds, some of which are almost too tiny to be seen. The Quail see them, though, and go to town eating them. We bought a small Mesquite tree when we arrived here in Summer, 2012. It seemed to be thriving, but in a month or two, it died. Along with the Rosewood (Silver Dollar Tree); only the Willow Acacia survived, all three bought from the Power Co. Cooperative which sells trees once a year. I'll get a pic of the Acacia tomorrow. It looks amazingly like the Weeping Willows common in the Midwest where I grew up.

    Mesquite, everybody heard of it, Mesquite charcoal being sold most everywhere. Supposedly nothing better for grilling steaks! But though it's a hardy tree, cold it can't take, so most Midwesterners and Easterners likely have never seen one, unless they travelled the Southwest. I gathered seed pods, of which there are thousands to be picked up under the Mesquite trees growing in town, where they are cared for by the city. I guess very few seeds germinate. I've planted dozens, using various methods suggested on-line. So far, only one has come up and flourished, out of 5 or 6. I keep them in the garage, by the window, thus protected from the harsh wind, which I believe "does-in" many new plantings. A few weeks ago, my wait for a cloudy, cooler, windless day arrived, and the Mesquite in the garage just knew it was time! He had already grown a second branch, which was as long as the original stem. First, having planted it in the ground out front, I placed a wire mesh around it, as protection from the bunny-rabbits. Then the wind started blowing. Better protection needed, several trash barrels stacked up almost to his full height:

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    The foliage of the Mesquite has extremely tiny leaves arranged in rows on either side of tiny twigs. At night, the leaves fold up, clasped tightly together. Observing this early on, I thought it was dying! Apparently, they conserve energy, or moisture, or something. One of Nature's secrets!
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    Below, a Date Palm (among some bushy plants whose seeds were gathered along the River Walk, in the garage, grown from a Date pit. It has three fronds already, a likely candidate for permanent planting.
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    That was three years ago. Here it is today, in our back yard. I am so rewarded by being able to succeed this way, during today's talk of GMOs, sterile seeds, and such. I doubt that they have GM'd Palm Trees, little money in it.
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    Beware as you walk by a low Palm like this! Each leaf has a needle-sharp spine at it's tip, a brush with one will leave a bleeding pin-prick right through thick pants legs! The bunny-rabbit knows his enemies, and leaves it alone!
    Frank
     
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  2. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    We have a try out here called mimosa which looks like it must be from the same family of trees. The leaves sometimes fold up, too; but not as much as the Sensitive Plant, which is also a type of mimosa. When you touch the leaves, they immediately fold up.
    Years ago, we had a small one, and we loved touching it to watch it close up its leaves.
    When I moved out to Missouri and discovered the mimosa tree, I was sure it was the same thing, and was so very disappointed that it didn't fold up when I touched it.
    The mimosa has fluffy little pink flowers in the summer, and then long bean/pea pods in the fall, and it is part of the legume family, like the mesquite is.
    Does the mesquite tree flower and then produce pods also ?
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  3. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    @Yvonne Smith "Does the mesquite tree flower and then produce pods also ? "

    I have never seen flowers, but the pods seem to form all over the tree, some 6 or 7 inches long. Cared-for, Mesquite trees can grow quite large, I've seen some with trunks over a foot in diameter. The wood has a particularly colorful hue.

    We had several Mimosa trees in Missouri, which bloomed with beautiful, delicate flowers. They were quite old, and about 20-feet tall.
     
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  4. Corie Henson

    Corie Henson Very Well-Known Member
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    If I am not mistaken, that mesquite is the counterpart of our native ipil-ipil which is planted in the boondocks for so many reasons. Most farms in the rural area plant the ipil-ipil to serve as boundary of their property. It grows fast, from the seed to a tree in less than a year. I also don't know if it can be considered a tree because the main stem is not that big. But anyway, the leaves of the ipil-ipil tree can be fodder to animals particularly to goats and cattle. Farmers say that the leaves are good for lactating cows and goats. And the wood is used to make charcoal, sometimes it is sold as firewood. We have an ipil-ipil in our extended garden that is maybe 15 feet high already with several branches and many pods with seeds.
     
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  5. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    I looked up your isil-isil tree, @Corie Henson , and it looks like it is in the same mimosa family as ours here, and probably the same as the mesquite trees as well. They are all pretty similar, but the flowers on yours is different than these we have.
    Does the isil-isil fold up its leaves at night, too, or maybe even when you touch it ?
    When we had the sensitive plant, it was a type of mimosa that was extra sensitive, so it would actually fold up its leaves when you touched a leaf, and it was so much fun to watch it. We just never got tired of seeing the leaves fold up !
    When we first discovered the mimosa trees in Missouri, both Robin and I went around touching the leaves and hoping that they would fold up, but they didn't. They did fold up at night though.
    It is still one of my most favorite trees.
     
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  6. Corie Henson

    Corie Henson Very Well-Known Member
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    You are right, @Yvonne Smith, the ipil-ipil tree is similar to the mimosa plant which curls its leaves when you touch it. We call mimosa Makahiya which literally means shy. I don't think the mesquite tree here "sleeps" at night like other plants but maybe I can check it tonight if I remember it. The mesquite here was planted for the wood because it has straight branches. By the way, the trellis of our grapevine is a branch from the mesquite tree here, it serves as the post of the makeshift trellis.
     
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