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Definition of MESQUITE
: any of several spiny leguminous trees or shrubs (genus Prosopis and especially P. glandulosa) chiefly of the southwestern United States that often form extensive thickets and have sweet pods eaten by livestock; also: the wood of the mesquite used especially in grilling food
Any of the spiny, deep-rooted shrubs or small trees that make up the genus Prosopis of the pea family (seelegume). Mesquites form extensive thickets in areas from South America to the southwestern U.S. Two races occur: one of tall trees (50 ft [15 m]), the other low and far-reaching, called running mesquite. Water-seeking roots grow as deep as 70 ft (20 m). Stems bear compound olive-green to white hairy leaves, then dense, cream-coloured catkins of flowers, followed by clusters of long, narrow, pale yellow beans. In warmer parts of the U.S., mesquites are considered pests and are eradicated. Cattle eat the beans, which contain a sweet pulp. The wood, formerly used in railroad ties, now has value only for unusual furniture and trinkets and as aromatic firewood.