Q. I want to plant a mesquite tree but I’m not sure whether to buy a Chilean or a velvet mesquite. Do you have an opinion on these two trees?
A. Both trees will do well in the Mojave Desert climate. They both have a similar shape and size, tolerance to winter cold but there are a few differences.
Wikipedia on velvet mesquite
Chilean Mesquite is also called thornless Mesquite. So a major advantage of the Chilean Mesquite is supposedly its lack of thorns. However, I have heard of it developing thorns later in its life.
Chilean Mesquite is faster growing then velvet Mesquite but this can also be a disadvantage. Sometimes Chilean Mesquite grows so rapidly its canopy can become top-heavy and may suffer during severe winds and get uprooted.
Chilean also tends to throw a lot of its energy into top growth rather than a good balance between root and top growth.
|Winter form of young mesquite|
Velvet Mesquite grows rapidly but not as rapidly as Chilean Mesquite. It has much more balanced growth where it develops a good deep root system along with good canopy development.
Sometimes Chilean Mesquite will develop a lot of surface roots and not develop the deep rooting that mesquites are famous for. Velvet Mesquite on the other hand does develop a very deep root system if you will encourage it with good soil preparation and deep, infrequent waterings.
I tend to favor velvet mesquite over Chilean Mesquite even though it has thorns. Pruning its structure early in its youth will go a long way to having a beautiful tree later on.
|Mesquite blown over due to shallow irrigations|
You should put this tree on a valve with other desert adapted trees and shrubs with deep root systems.