Mesquite is a small tree or shrub, usually armed with straight, very stout spines that produces edible fruits called legumes, beans, or pods. A signature plant of the South Texas Plains and Mexico, mesquite, perhaps more than any other plant, is characteristic of the region. This plant was used in many different ways by native peoples. Its nutritious pods were highly valued as an important food resource rich in sugar and protein, its hard wood was used for making tools, musical instruments, and fuel, and the plant had medicinal and ritual uses as well.
The fruit is a bean or legume, slightly curved usually measuring 6-10 inches. The fruit or pod ripens into a light tan or brown pod that encase the seed.
Historic and ethnographic records indicate that almost every part of the mesquite tree has a use. The Pima Indians of southern Arizona referred to the mesquite as the “tree of life”. The pods were consumed with any meal raw, also grouned and made to flatcakes. Cahuilla utilized Mesquite blossoms, green pods and dried pots. Blossom were consumed raw or roasted, squeezed into balls and consumed. Green pods were very often juiced. The ground dry mesquite flour was moistened with water and then hardened again.
Mesquite gum, herbage, roots, and bark were used in medicinal applications. Leaves were often used in topical applications. Mescalero Apache ground or mashed leaves and mixed them with water, and applied the mix to the afflicted area, especially eyes. Mesquite gum, exudate that collected in cracks in the bark, was dissolved in water and applied to the eyes (Hrdlicka 1908).
The Cocopa boiled the inner bark in water given internally to newborns. Both mesquite gum and powdered mesquite bark have antiseptic qualities (Gifford 1933). The Pima treated diarrhea with an infusion of mesquite roots or gum. Astringent qualities of mesquite bark were also utilized by the Pima (Curtin 1949).
Mesquite is rich in calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, zinc; highly absorbably protein, rich in lysine and high dietary fiber. Although the taste is sweet, the intake can balance and stabilize the blood sugar and also lower the glycemic load of high carb foods. This is good news for diabetics as well as athlets and weight watchers.
1 Tablespoon of mesquite powder added to any drink, smoothie or water will help keep the hunger away for up to 4 hours and balance energy and stamina for up to 6 hours. Mesquite can be blended with grains, rice flour (70% flour und 30% mesquite) in all kind of pastries, cakes and breads, topping for vegetable dishes and fruits, added to salad dressings, desserts and goes great with raw cacao powder, lukuma powder, coconut water, coconut milk, spirulina, maca, agave.