Maybe more than any other tree in our region, the velvet mesquite has a large impact on our landscape. This tree is both incredibly tenacious and invasive as well one of the most productive trees for wildlife.
The tree dominate xero-riparian areas as well as other lowlands with deep or soft soils. It can grow on rockier or less well developed soils, but does not fair as well or get as large. It is abundant in the right conditions in both the Sonoran Desert as well as Sinaloan thornscrub. It also dominates semi-desert grasslands and can often make it's way into the oak woodland zone.
Mesquite is very important and productive for birds of all kinds. It is especially important for migrating walrblers, vireos, and others. Mequite bosques are a vital part of a healthy xero-riparian ecosystem.
Mesquites in bad conditions can hand on for decades as small shrubs with a few spindly branches. In prime conditions in deep valley bottom soil with aquifer access they can become huge, dominating, and beautiful trees. Mesquites have the longest/deepest root systems known in the plant world. They can often reach depths of near 100 feet adn in one case were documented to 175 feet.
Generally they lose their leaves in winter from cold. New leaves appear around mid-April (depending on the year, location, and elevation) turning brown or grey landscapes emerald gree within a couple weeks.