According to Wikipedia, the mesquite tree is one of the most common trees of the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. It is a member of the legume family of plants which includes peanuts, alfalfa, clover, and beans. Perfectly adapted for its dry environment, the mesquite is a hardy tree.
There are three types of mesquite tree that grow in this region. One is the honey mesquite, another is the screwbean mesquite, and finally there is the velvet mesquite. The honey mesquite gets its name from its fragrant flowers. The screwbean mesquite is so named because it has screw-like pods. The velvet mesquite has leaflets which feel velvety to the touch.
The honey mesquite can grow to 20 feet in height with a trunk that is a foot in diameter. Like the other mesquite species it has spines; they are 3 inches long and occur along the branches. The narrow leaves are pointed and are 2 to 3 inches long. The screwbean also can get as large as 20 feet. It has a 2-inch fruit that develops from its flowers that resembles the spiraling shape of a screw. The velvet mesquite is bigger than the other two, with a diameter that can reach 2 feet and growing to an average of 30 feet. It has 4-inch long spikes and an 8-inch fruit, like the honey mesquite does.
Mesquite is very dense. It is almost twice as hard as oak and more than twice as hard as walnut. It has a very strong flavor, and burns hot and fast. This is my personal favorite.
It’s excellent with beef, fish, chicken, and game.
My personal opinion; it’s especially good with beef!
Tip: When using Mesquite chunks, (fist sized), use a little less than you would when using a milder would like pecan or apple. That way you aren’t smoking for as long, and you won’t over-power the flavor of the meat. It won’t take long to impart the smoke flavor when using Mesquite!