Prosopis ferox

Name and classification

Prosopis ferox Griseb.
Family Fabaceae, Subfamily Mimosoideae

NOTE: Only two seeds of Prosopis ferox were available for examination. Therefore, the description and images in this fact sheet may not be representative of this species’ seeds.

Common names

mesquite

Description

Pods cylindric, terete or subterete, straight or falcate to C-shaped, 2.5–7 cm long, 9–18 mm in diameter, with prominent placental suture, very short stipe (sessile). Apex obtuse and mucronate, margins straight, nonundulate. Straw-yellow when ripe, veins obscure; seed chambers not visible. Endocarp segmented, not closed, thin, easily broken; mesocarp spongy, tannic, bitter. Seeds oriented transversely in 2 irregular rows.

Seeds obovate in outline, 4.5–6.5 mm long, 3.5–4.5 mm wide, ca. 1 mm thick, umbo absent, oblong in cross section. Pleurogram distinctly basal, broadly open.

Identification considerations

Seeds have a rather small pleurogram. Pods are distinctive because of their cylindric shape, curve, and straw-yellow color when ripe.

Prosopis tamarugo F. Phil. (the only other species in the series Cavenicarpae and non-FNW), has pods more strongly curved, often annular, 7–11 mm in diameter, with sutures impressed, seeds 3–4.3 mm long; indigenous to Chile. [No image available.]

Distribution

Argentina, Bolivia

Habitat

high semidesert at 2,400 to 3,700 m elevations

General information

Prosopis ferox is a shrub or tree 2–5(7) m tall, used as a shade tree. Its wood is used for fuel and the pods can be eaten.

seeds

seeds

lens and hilum of seed

lens and hilum of seed

pods

pods

pods

pods

A, pod; B, seed; C, longitudinal section of seed showing embryo; D, transection of seed; drawing by Lynda E. Chandler

A, pod; B, seed; C, longitudinal section of seed showing embryo; D, transection of seed; drawing by Lynda E. Chandler