Dwarf Mesquite / Prosopis farcta / العقيل

By Zeynel Cebeci [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Status: Common

This deciduous plant is originally a ‘below ground tree’, above the ground, it looks like a shrub, growing upto a height of 20-100cm and rarely upto 4 m. the root system of this plant is very wide and deep, and actually looks like a tree trunk with the branches growing down up to a depth of 20m .

So therefore it is only the ‘tree-top’ which is seen above the ground and this tree-top comprises of a collection of shrubs extending above ground over an area of 1000 sq. m or more and are inter-connected.

The branches are slender and whitish in colour. Therefore the plant can be categorised as a ‘hemicryptophyte’ or ‘phanerophyte shrub’, and is also a non-succulent. It can also be termed as a  ‘woody perennial dwarf legume shrub’. 
The leaves are greyish green in colour, and perennating type – they are pinnate or bipinnate, compound and arranged in alternate pattern –one on each node. 

The leaves fall at the end of summer and in autumn, depending on the climatic conditions. The branches have thorns or spines.
The flowering season is from May to August and the flowers are small sized and pale yellowish in colour.

The flowers are cylindrical shaped, and grouped in small yellowish axillary branches.

The flowers are hermaphrodite –both male and female sex organs are present in the same flower. The flowers are very rich in pollen and are a very good pollinating plant during the Middle Eastern summers. 
The seeds are fruits are homogeneous. The fruits are edible and during the ripening time, the colour changes from pink to reddish.brown.

The fruit shape is like a pod and the structure is spongy and the taste is very bland or flat. The shape is irregular like a vesicle and is covered with a leathery outer skin. The seeds are small, brown and flat.

Other name: Syrian Mesquite