Prosopis juliflora (weed)

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Prosopis juliflora (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): J.M. Garg
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Prosopis juliflora (weed) (Swartz) DC. - (Mexican thorn)

This species is a shrub or small tree, native to dry and hot areas in Central and South America. It is one of several species of mesquite growing in the Americas. P. juliflora is invasive in parts of Africa, Australia and Asia. The leaves are eaten by cattle and the wood is used in some countries. However, outside the Americas, it can take over agricultural land like grasslands, obstructs cattle due to its long thorns and suppress native plants. An additional effect is that it can indirectly increase mosquito populations and even promote the spread of malaria, apparently by providing a source of sugar to female Anopheles (Muller et al., 2017).

P. juliflora plants can grow to a height of more than 10 m and the roots may reach a record depth of up to 50 m. Inflorescences are yellowish and about 5-10 cm long. Pods are 20-30 cm long and contain around 20 seeds. the seeds mainly spread through the feeding activity of cattle.