Prosopis is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae. It contains around 45 species of spiny trees and shrubs found in subtropical and tropical regions of the Americas, Africa, Western Asia, and South Asia. They often thrive in arid soil and are resistant to drought, on occasion developing extremely deep root systems. Their wood is usually hard, dense and durable. Their fruits are pods and may contain large amounts of sugar. The generic name means "burdock" in late Latin and originated in the Greek language.[4]

Prosopis caldenia, a species of central Argentina.
Scientific classification

Type species
Prosopis spicigera

See text.

  • Lagonychium M. Bieb.
  • Strombocarpa Engelm. & Gray
  • Sopropis Britt. & Rose

Selected species

Formerly placed here

  • Acacia atramentaria Benth. (as P. astringens Gillies ex Hook. & Arn.)
  • Elephantorrhiza elephantina (Burch.) Skeels (as P. elephantina (Burch.) E.Mey. or P. elephantorrhiza Spreng.)
  • Prosopidastrum globosum (Gillies ex Hook. & Arn.) Burkart (as P. globosa Gillies ex Hook. & Arn.)


Prosopis species have been found to contain 5-hydroxytryptamine, apigenin, isorhamnetin-3-diglucoside, l-arabinose, quercetin, tannin, and tryptamine.[5]

Prosopis species known to contain alkaloids
Prosopis albaBeta-phenethylamine and tryptamine[6]
Prosopis alpataco"Aerial parts" contain tryptamine, phenethylamine derivatives.[7]
Prosopis argentina"Aerial parts" contain tryptamine, phenethylamine derivatives.[7]
Prosopis chilensis"Aerial parts" contain beta-phenethylamine and derivatives plus tryptamine[7][8]
Prosopis argentinaExudate contains tryptamine, phenethylamine derivatives.[7]
Prosopis glandulosaAlkaloids in bark and roots,[5] tyramine and N-methyltyramine (a stimulant) in leaves[9]
Prosopis juliflora5-HTP (plant) and tryptamine (plant).[10]
Prosopis nigraHarman, eleagnine, and N-acetyltryptamine[11]
Prosopis pugionata"Aerial parts" contain tryptamine, phenethylamine derivatives.[7]
Prosopis tamarugoPhenethylamine[8]

The tannins present in Prosopis species are of the pyrogallotannin and pyrocatecollic types.[12] The tannins are mainly found in the bark and wood while their concentration in the pods is low.[13]

Some species, such as P. africana or P. velutina, produce a gum (mesquite gum).[14]

As an introduced and invasive species

The species Prosopis pallida was introduced to Hawaii in 1828 and now dominates many of the drier coastal parts of the islands, where it is called the kiawe tree and is a prime source of monofloral honey production.[15]

In Australia, invasive Prosopis species are causing severe economic and environmental damage. With their thorns and many low branches, Prosopis shrubs form impenetrable thickets which prevent cattle from accessing watering holes, etc. They also take over pastoral grasslands and suck up scarce water. Prosopis species cause land erosion due to loss of grassland that are habitats for native plants and animals. Prosopis thickets also provide shelter for feral animals such as pigs and cats.[16]

For more information on invasiveness of mesquite species, see Prosopis glandulosa and Prosopis juliflora.


Eradicating Prosopis is difficult because the plant's bud regeneration zone can extend down to 6 in (150 mm) below ground level;[17][18] the tree can regenerate from a piece of root left in the soil.[17] Some herbicides are not effective or only partially effective against mesquite. Spray techniques for removal, while effective against short-term regrowth, are expensive, costing more than $70/acre ($170/hectare) in the USA. Removing large trees requires tracked equipment; costs can approach $2,000 per acre. In Australia, several techniques are used to remove Prosopis.[16]

See also



  1. The Legume Phylogeny Working Group (LPWG). (2017). "A new subfamily classification of the Leguminosae based on a taxonomically comprehensive phylogeny". Taxon. 66 (1): 44–77. doi:10.12705/661.3.
  2. "Prosopis L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 1999-03-05. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
  3. "Prosopis L." TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
  4. Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. 4 M-Q. CRC Press. p. 2171. ISBN 978-0-8493-2677-6.
  5. Medicinal Plants of the Southwest Archived 2007-04-20 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Graziano MN, Ferraro GE, Coussio JD (December 1971). "Alkaloids of Argentine medicinal plants. II. Isolation of tyramine, beta-phenethylamine and tryptamine from Prosopis alba". Lloydia. 34 (4): 453–4. PMID 5173440.
  7. Tapia A, Egly Feresin G, Bustos D, Astudillo L, Theoduloz C, Schmeda-Hirschmann G (July 2000). "Biologically active alkaloids and a free radical scavenger from Prosopis species". J Ethnopharmacol. 71 (1–2): 241–6. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(00)00171-9. PMID 10904169.
  8. Luis Astudillo; Guillermo Schmeda-Hirschmann; Juan P Herrera; Manuel Cortés (April 2000). "Proximate composition and biological activity of Chilean Prosopis species". J Sci Food Agric. 80 (5): 567–573. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0010(200004)80:5<567::AID-JSFA563>3.0.CO;2-Y. Archived from the original on 2012-12-16.
  9. "Prosopis glandulosa". Retrieved 2008-05-01.
  10. Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases
  11. Constantino Manuel Torres; David B. Repke (15 March 2006). Anadenanthera: visionary plant of ancient South America. Psychology Press. pp. 134–. ISBN 978-0-7890-2642-2.
  12. P. juliflora as a source of food and medicine for rural inhabitants in Rio Grande do Norte. ROCHA, R. G. A. In: The Current State of Knowledge on Prosopis juliflora. (Eds.) M. A. Habit and J. C. Saavedra. FAO,, 1990 Rome, Italy, pages 397-403
  13. Pasiecznik, N.M.; Felker, P.; Harris, P.J.C.; Harsh, L.N.; Cruz, G.; Tewari, J.C.; Cadoret, K.; Maldonado, L.J. (2001). The Prosopis julifloraProsopis pallida Complex: A Monograph (PDF). ISBN 978-0-905343-30-3.
  14. Adikwu, MU; Ezeabasili, SI; Esimone, CO (2001). "Evaluation of the physico-chemical properties of a new polysaccharide gum from Prosopis africana". Bollettino Chimico Farmaceutico. 140 (1): 40–5. PMID 11338777.
  15. Prosopis pallida species info
  16. ""Mesquite (Prosopis species)" Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Canberra" (PDF).
  17. Mesquite Info
  18. The Mesquite

General references

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