Our blog series on Shade Tree Types is going to end with the Mesquite varieties we offer. First we describe the Thornless Hybrid Mesquite.
The Thornless Hybrid Mesquite (THM) is another favorite of people because the tree grows quickly, has a wide, lush green canopy that provides great shade, and the tree does not have thorns. The THM can grow up to 30 ft tall and wide and is know for its strong root system that helps support it during strong winds and storms. It is semi-deciduous so it loses some of its leaves during the winter. In late spring, THMs produce clusters of yellow-green flowers and in summer, the tree starts to shed its brown seed pods.
THMs can be found throughout the valley. Pictured left is one located near our downtown Phoenix office. You can see the full shade it provides for the front of the house as well as the driveway and how it adds immensely to the surrounding landscape.
Care and Maintenance:
The THM sapling you will receive comes in a 5-gallon base and tends to be 3-6 feet tall (pictured right). Plant your sapling in an area that receives full sun and during the first year, make sure to water the tree deeply, to 2-3 feet deep and away from the trunk to encourage the growth of strong roots. The THM has a natural deep root system that can grow over 100 feet laterally in order to find water, and the first 2-3 years are the most important in establishing this root system. During the spring and fall/winter, water it once every 14 days or less if there is rainfall, but during the hottest summer months increase the watering to once every week. Refer to our blog on How to Properly Water Your Tree for more information on watering techniques.
After the first year of growth, prune the tree to remove about 20% of the canopy during the growing season in order to encourage root development that is proportional to the shoot growth of young trees. In areas with heavy monsoons, it is important to prune before the beginning of the storm season. Additional pruning, 3 to 4 weeks later, will lessen the risk of wind-throw and branch damage. Pruning more than 20% of the canopy can inhibit rooting and encourage undesired re-growth of dense, top-heavy clusters of branches and leaves.
While we typically don’t encourage staking, THM can become top heavy and may need to be staked for a brief period (no more than the first year). Please refer to our blog on How to Properly Stake a Tree for guidance.
THMs are fast-growing, hardy trees and widely used in desert landscaping. The thornless feature is also kid-friendly. It should be noted that a full-grown tree can potentially shed quite a bit of pods so make sure and keep this in mind when you are deciding where to plant your tree.
If you have a Thornless Hybrid Mesquite or are thinking of getting one and have questions, please post them on our Ask the Arborist forum here and our volunteer Arborist, Erik, will answer them.
Erik the Arborist, on our forum: http://vpaaz.org/STForum
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